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Before we begin, I will note that statements made during the call may include forward-looking statements within the meanings of the U.S. Federal Securities Laws. Forward-looking statements are subject to a number of uncertainties and risks that could significantly affect the company's current plans, anticipated actions and its future financial condition and results. These uncertainties and risks include, but are not limited to those disclosed in the company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.Forward-looking statements speak only to the date they are made, and the company assumes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements in light of new information, future events or otherwise. Additionally, during the call, management will discuss certain non-GAAP measures within the meaning of the US Federal Security Laws. For more information and a reconciliation of these measures to the most directly comparable GAAP financial measures, please refer to our earnings press release, which was issued last night and is available on our website. With that complete, I can now turn the call over to Scott. Scott Carmilani Thanks, Keith and good morning everyone. Results so far this year are much improved from the first half while we experienced an unusually high frequency of global cat activity. Operating income for the quarter was $87 million or $2.35 per diluted share and we ended the quarter with diluted book value per share of $88.24. This is up 3.2% from the first quarter and just over 10% for the first half of the year. Underlying our results were the underwriting profits from each of our insurance segments, positive investment returns and the accretive benefit from our shareholder repurchase program. Gross premiums in the second quarter increased by almost 25% from the prior year. Year-to-date production is up 23% to $1.3 billion for the first half of the year. To put this in some historical context, that’s almost as much as we wrote for the entire year of 2008.
Drilling down into our segments, I am going to lead with our reinsurance segment for a change of order. Here our segment premiums were up $83 million for the quarter to $197 million, a 73% increase compared to our prior period. Much of this increase is driven by the new business opportunities to our global offices, rate increases and our increased participations on our renewal business. We're now more often seen as having an income and status.About $13.5 million of our increased premiums for the quarter were from early renewals of premiums where we booked in third quarter of last year and now booked in this quarter this year. As mentioned on the last call, we took advantage of the opportunities in the property cat space. A large portion of our increased reinsurance premiums came from the property lines in the related business. We performed well on the April 1 renewal season in the Asia Pac region where we participated in the significantly improved rate environment. While our property cat premiums increased by about $30 million for the quarter, these premium increases outpaced the related exposure increases. Our Insurance segment, premiums increased from $39 million to $266 million for the quarter, a 17% increase from the prior period. This is the highest production quarter to date for this segment of our business. The growth is spread fairly evenly across most of our lines in the US leading with our Specialty Casualty business. New business continued to be strong in the US and retention ratios remained healthy above 80%. Premiums in our International Insurance segment were up modestly 3% for the quarter, but has now reported growth for each of the last five quarters. We are achieving this growth while peeling back some of the limits we've deployed earlier in the European general property area where we continue to de-risk and reshape that portfolio where rates are meeting our expectations. At the same time, the investments in our global capabilities and new products continue to pay off with growth for the quarter coming through our professional lines and international trade credit division internationally. Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com