Arthur J. Gallagher & Co's CEO Discusses Second Quarter Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Arthur J. Gallagher & Co (AJG)

Q2 2012 Earnings Conference Call

August 1, 2012, 09:00 am ET


J. Patrick Gallagher, Jr. – Chairman, President, and CEO

Scott Blumenthal – Executive VP, Television

Rich Schmaeling - CFO


Greg Locraft – Morgan Stanley

Mark Hughes – SunTrust Robinson Humphrey

Brian DiRubbio – YCAP Management

Sarah DeWitt – Barclays

Dan Farrell – Sterne Agee

John Campbell – Stevens

(Chris Lakim) – William Blair



Good morning and welcome to Arthur J. Gallagher & Co's second quarter 2012 earnings conference call. Participants have been placed on a listen-only mode. Your lines will be opened for questions following the presentation.

Today's call is being recorded. If you have any objections, you may disconnect at this time.

Some of the comments made during this conference call, including answers given in response to questions, may constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Securities laws.

These forward-looking statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that will be discussed on this call and which are also described in the company's reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Actual results may differ materially from those discussed today.

It is now my pleasure to introduce J. Patrick Gallagher, Jr., Chairman, President, and CEO of Arthur J. Gallagher and Company. Mr. Gallagher, you may begin.

J. Patrick Gallagher, Jr.

Thank you, (Claudia), and good morning, everyone. Welcome to our second quarter conference call and thank you for being with us this morning. This morning, I'm joined by Doug Howell, Chief Financial Officer as well as the heads of our operating businesses.

As we usually do, I'll add some color to the quarter, Doug will make some additional comments, and we'll move quickly to questions and answers. As I said in our press release, I am really very pleased with the performance in the quarter and frankly, year to date. I feel like we're hitting on all cylinders.

All of our operating divisions contributed to our growth in the quarter. Adjusted brokerage revenue's up 18%. Five percent organic is a solid result. Adjusted brokerage EBITDAC up 21% is simply outstanding. Seventy-two basis points of margin improvement illustrates the leverage that this business enjoys.

Year to date, we've completed 32 acquisitions, which will bring in over $130 million of revenue. All in all, a strong quarter in brokerage.

Our risk management segment is also very strong this quarter. Revenue's up 7% and base organic fees up over 8%. Adjusted EBITDAC up 11% and our margin expanded by 50 basis points.

So all in when I put both our operating segments together, brokerage and risk management, we had adjusted revenue growth of 15% and adjusted EBITDAC growth of 20%.

These results don't just happen. They happen because our great team gets up every day everywhere around the world and works hard for our clients. I could not be prouder of the team. Our unique Gallagher culture is alive and well as we continue to grow our business

Remember, every single day at Gallagher, we focus on four strategic areas; the first is organic growth. We have over 140 interns that are winding up their internship this week, very exciting summer. Secondly, we focus on mergers and acquisitions. We've had a solid six months.

Thirdly, operational excellence in productivity. We had margins expansion again this quarter and fourthly, our culture which we believe we have a very unique team-oriented global culture that we continue to foster. The organization performed nicely the first half of this year in all four key strategic areas.

Let me add some more color to our operations. Property casualty retail continues to show organic growth around the world and in the United States. We continue to see rate increases. The Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers quarterly survey came out this week.

The major lines that we placed – work comp, property, commercial auto, general liability, and umbrella are up approximately 5.3% for the quarter for a sequential gain of 60 basis points over Q1. This is not – and this is very important. This is not a classic hard market. Frankly, that's a very good thing for us, our clients, and our markets.

This is my fourth cycle. We don't want to see 100% rate increases and big cutbacks in coverage. The industry is not reacting to balance sheet problems but rather the income statement and loss ratio concerns. An environment of incremental rate growth is ideal for us. If we had a 4% rate gain per current quarter per year for a number of years, that would produce an opportunity for organic growth each and every quarter.

New business was strong in the quarter. Our retention remains nicely in the mid-90s and I think that speaks volumes about our aggressive sales and service capabilities and we continue to see our customers' businesses stabilizing to growing slightly. We did not see our clients adding employees so there's still caution in the marketplace but we are seeing additional premium audits which is a good sign.

Our wholesale and NGA business had a very strong quarter with solid organic growth. This reflects business moving back to the excess and surplus markets and an increase in small business formations.

Our benefits business continues to be helped by the new health law. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled, our customers and prospects know they need our help. The compliance issues alone in this law are very difficult for our customers to deal with so they need our expertise.

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