Everest Re Group's CEO Discusses Q2 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Everest Re Group Ltd (RE)

Q2 2012 Earnings Call

July 26, 2012 10:30 am ET

Executives

Joe Taranto – Chairman & Chief Executive Officer

Dom Addesso – President

Craig Howie – Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Beth Farrell – Vice President, Investor Relations

Analysts

Amit Kumar – Macquarie Research

Josh Shanker – Deutsche Bank

Greg Locraft – Morgan Stanley

Cliff Gallant – Keefe Bruyette & Woods

Ian Gutterman – Adage Capital

[Michael Yancey] – Goldman Sachs

Vinay Misquith – Evercore Partners

Presentation

Operator

Good day everyone, and welcome to the Everest Re Group Ltd. Q2 2012 Earnings Release Call. Today’s conference is being recorded, and at this time for opening remarks and introductions I would like to turn the conference over to Beth Farrell. Please go ahead.

Beth Farrell

Thank you, Lisa. Good morning and welcome to Everest Re Group’s Q2 2012 earnings conference call. On the call with me today are Joe Taranto, the company’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer; Dom Addesso, our President; and Craig Howie, our Chief Financial Officer.

Before we begin I will preface our comments by noting that our SEC filings include extensive disclosures with respect to forward-looking statements. In that regard, I note that statements made during today’s call which are forward looking in nature, such as statements about projections, estimates, expectations, and the like are subject to various risks. As you know, actual results could differ materially from current projections or expectations. Our SEC filings have a full listing of the risks that investors should consider in connection with such statements. Now let me turn the call over to Joe.

Joe Taranto

Thanks, Beth. Good morning. We are pleased with our results through the first six months. Our comprehensive income for that period is $519 million. During the six months we purchased $225 million of our stock, paid $51 million in dividends, and still increased our surplus $346 million or 6%. Booked value per share adjusted for dividends has increased 10%. Our annualized operating earnings ROE was 16%.

Our reinsurance book has been positioned to capitalize on the best opportunities which have generally been on the property risks as rates, terms and conditions improved in the last couple of years in response to lost activity. We have done this without meaningful increasing our PMLs in any peak zones. We are pleased with our mid-year renewals. Dom will provide more detail on this shortly.

Our insurance book has also been positioned to capitalize on our best opportunities. This includes our [DNO] operations, our A&H medical stop loss business, and select property businesses which continue to be profitable areas for us; as well as the California worker’s comp benefits and our general liability book where the market continues to improve; and our [crop book]. Again, Dom will provide more detail.

Our $16 billion of invested assets continued to perform well, particularly given the challenges of finding quality investments in the current market. As previously announced, I will continue as CEO through the end of 2013 at which point Dom will become the CEO. I’m excited about continuing to lead our company through this year and next, and thrilled to have such a high quality individual – Dom Addesso – lead our company for many years thereafter. I like our team, our portfolio and our plan. Our company has never been stronger, our future has never been brighter. Dom?

Dom Addesso

Thank you, Joe. Good morning. As Joe indicated, we’ve had an excellent quarter overall. The year so far is playing out generally as expected with the attritional combined ratio improving by one point compared to the first six months of 2011. Rate increases and improving terms are beginning to work through the reinsurance property results. Total CAT premium year-over-year has increased $200 million with approximately half of that in rate increase.

These results are also benefiting from the shift of pro rata to excess. Well this has a dampening effect on premium, the positive impact on margin is flowing through the loss and expense ratios. The combined ratio on our reinsurance property portfolios which has not yet been fully reflected through earnings has improved by 11 points. On the treaty casualty side we are beginning to see modest rate increase work through the results. It has not yet reached a level where we feel the need to aggressively expand, but the future opportunities may be more appealing over time. In that regard we are beginning to enhance our teams and structure to maximize our resources around the globe.

Overall reinsurance premiums for the quarter were down, but this was due to foreign currency, reinstatement premiums, and the one-time effect of a cancelled [close share] contract. After eliminating the effect of these items, premiums were up 17% for the quarter. This was a result of the previously mentioned rate increases in many of our businesses.

The Florida market at June 1 saw CAT rates move up on average by 5%. Canada property rate movements were similar. The Asian markets had the largest moves, where rates in loss-affected regions were up 20% plus. In Japan, we saw terms improve on proportional treaties although we did move some capacity to excess structures. July renewals in Australia and New Zealand also had an upward movement in rates due to losses in those markets. Increases here were in excess of 10% to 20%. In all other international regions, property rates changes were relatively flat.

As I mentioned, approximately half of the CAT-exposed premium increase was rate, but the balance reflects new business opportunities for us in non-peak zones. Our total CAT-exposed premium through six months is $740 million. By year end this is expected to be approximately $1 billion with no material increase in peak PML zones. This expansion reflects our appetite to expand as markets improve and most importantly our ability to execute due to the capability of our staff and the desire of the market for our well-rated capacity.

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