National Interstate Corporation Reports 2015 Third Quarter Results
  • 2015 third quarter operating earnings per share of  $0.39 vs. $0.36 last year
  • Gross premiums written increased 27% for 2015 third quarter and 7% for the first nine months
  • Calendar year and accident year combined ratio of 98.6% for 2015 third quarter

RICHFIELD, Ohio, Nov. 03, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- National Interstate Corporation (Nasdaq:NATL) today reported net income per share of $0.26 for the 2015 third quarter compared to $0.44 last year and $0.95 for the first nine months of 2015 compared to $0.31 last year.  Gross premiums written of $183.2 million for the three month period ended September 30, 2015, increased 27% over the same quarter in 2014 and 2015 year-to-date gross premiums written of $523.5 million were 7% ahead of the comparable period in 2014.

The Company's net income, determined in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), includes items that may not be indicative of ongoing operations. The following table reconciles net income to net income from operations, a non-GAAP financial measure that is a useful tool for investors and analysts in analyzing ongoing operating trends. Net income from operations includes underwriting income and net investment income. 
  Three Months Ended September 30,   Nine months Ended September 30,
    2015       2014       2015   2014
  (In thousands, except per share data)   (In thousands, except per share data)
Net income from operations $ 7,638     $ 7,089     $ 20,414     $ 3,420  
After-tax net realized (losses) gains from investments   (2,493 )     1,704       (1,518 )     4,091  
After-tax impact from transaction expenses   -       -       -       (1,406 )
Net income $   5,145     $    8,793     $   18,896     $    6,105  
           
Net income from operations per share, diluted $ 0.39     $ 0.36     $ 1.03     $ 0.17  
After-tax net realized (losses) gains from investments per share, diluted   (0.13 )     0.08       (0.08 )     0.21  
After-tax impact from transaction expenses per share, diluted   -       -       -       (0.07 )
Net income per share, diluted $   0.26     $    0.44     $   0.95     $    0.31  
             

Net income of $0.26 per share for the 2015 third quarter decreased compared to the 2014 third quarter due to after-tax realized losses from investments of $.13 per share in the 2015 third quarter compared to  realized gains of $0.08 per share last year. The net realized losses from investments for the quarter were largely attributable to impairment charges primarily for securities related to the energy sector, where management is uncertain of the timing and the extent of ultimate recovery. After-tax realized losses from investments also impacted net income of $0.95 per share for the first nine months of 2015 which compared to $0.31 for the same 2014 period.  Net income for the nine months ended 2014 was adversely affected by increased loss and loss adjustment expenses (LAE) including strengthening of prior year claims reserves.  

Underwriting Results

  Three Months Ended September 30,   Nine months Ended September 30,
  2015 2014     2015 2014
Losses and LAE ratio excluding prior year development (accident year) 79.3 % 79.0 %     78.0 % 76.8 %
Prior year loss development - % 0.1 %     1.0 % 7.3 %
Losses and LAE ratio (calendar year) 79.3 % 79.1 %     79.0 % 84.1 %
Underwriting expense ratio 19.3 % 20.0 %     20.1 % 20.3 %
Combined ratio 98.6 % 99.1 %     99.1 % 104.4 %
                     

Dave Michelson, President and Chief Executive Officer said, "We continue to experience slow improvement in our underwriting results while maneuvering through the challenging claims environment for commercial auto liability coverages that the entire industry is experiencing. We are encouraged that we experienced no prior year loss development for the second consecutive quarter and pleased to report an improved combined ratio of 98.6%."  

The combined ratio for the 2015 third quarter improved slightly compared to the 2014 third quarter reflecting a 0.7 percentage point improvement in the underwriting expense ratio due primarily to changes in the mix of business written. The underwriting expense ratio of 20.1% for the 2015 first nine months remains favorable and is in line with the ratios reported for the past two full years.

Prior year loss development for the first nine months of 2015 has been minimal when compared to the same 2014 period during which reserve strengthening occurred predominantly for the commercial auto liability coverages. Elevated severe claim activity in the Company's commercial auto liability coverages remains relatively consistent with other recent periods.  For the first nine months of 2015, the Company's moving and storage business has experienced higher than normal claims severity contributing to the 78.0% consolidated accident year loss ratio.

InvestmentsNet investment income of $9.9 million for the 2015 third quarter and $29.4 million for the 2015 first nine months were both ahead of the same periods last year. The increase in net investment income is primarily attributable to an increase in average cash and invested assets. The Company recorded impairments of $3.1 million and $4.5 million for the 2015 third quarter and first nine months, respectively, which were predominantly common stock holdings. The majority of the impairments were for securities that were impacted by turmoil within the energy industry causing pricing volatility in the related sectors. The Company continues to maintain a high quality and diversified portfolio with approximately 88% of its total cash and invested assets rated NAIC 1 or 2 and an effective duration of its fixed income portfolio of approximately 4 years.
  September 30, 2015
  Fair Value   Net Unrealized Gain
  (In thousands)
U.S. government and agencies $ 151,428     $ 3,661
State and local government   318,750       10,791
Mortgage backed securities   181,996       6,711
Corporate obligations   205,987       1,912
Other debt obligations   181,105       516
Preferred redeemable securities     4,289         121
Total fixed maturities $ 1,043,555     $ 23,712
       
Equity securities $   90,006     $   1,050
       
Total fixed maturities and equity securities $   1,133,561     $   24,762

Gross Premiums WrittenThe table below summarizes gross premiums written by business component:
    Three Months Ended September 30,
    2015   2014
    Amount   Percent   Amount   Percent
    (Dollars in thousands)
Alternative Risk Transfer   $ 101,224     55.3 %   $ 64,435     44.8 %
Transportation   62,663     34.2 %   60,496     41.9 %
Specialty Personal Lines   8,278     4.5 %   8,717     6.0 %
Hawaii and Alaska   7,067     3.9 %   6,648     4.6 %
Other   3,962     2.1 %   3,951     2.7 %
Gross premiums written   $ 183,194     100.0 %   $ 144,247     100.0 %
                         
    Nine months Ended September 30,
    2015   2014
    Amount   Percent   Amount   Percent
    (Dollars in thousands)
Alternative Risk Transfer   $ 291,502     55.7 %   $ 257,382     52.6 %
Transportation   174,911     33.4 %   178,358     36.4 %
Specialty Personal Lines   27,566     5.3 %   28,044     5.7 %
Hawaii and Alaska   17,609     3.4 %   16,667     3.4 %
Other   11,866     2.2 %   9,499     1.9 %
Gross premiums written   $ 523,454     100.0 %   $ 489,950     100.0 %

"Our 27% increase in gross premiums written for the 2015 third quarter was higher than recent quarters. We were pleased to add a large Alternative Risk Transfer (ART) customer during the quarter which was the primary driver for the increase," commented Mr. Michelson. "We continue to focus on maintaining our underwriting disciplines as indicated by our renewal rate increases of approximately 5% for the 2015 third quarter and 6% year-to-date."    

The ART component 2015 third quarter gross premiums written of $101.2 million were 57% ahead of last year primarily due to the addition of one large insured to the national account ART product. The ART national account product is focused on larger customers that could contribute to quarter over quarter variability in this component. Additionally, the Company obtained average rate increases on renewed ART business of approximately 6% during the 2015 third quarter and continues to achieve high levels of customer retention in the group ART programs.

The Company continues to focus on rate increases for its Transportation component which averaged approximately 5% and 7% for the 2015 third quarter and first nine months, respectively.  Also contributing to the period over period variances was new business premium in several products including passenger transportation, home delivery, crane and heavy haul and paratransit that was partially offset by ongoing underwriting and rate actions which have led to non-renewals, primarily in our traditional trucking and tow related products.

Gross premiums written for Specialty Personal Lines and Hawaii and Alaska remain stable compared to last year.

Summary Comments"Overall we had a solid third quarter with slightly improved underwriting results and top line growth that came from both new business and continued rate strengthening. We are pleased that the third quarter results improved the year-to-date combined ratio to 99.1%; however we still have more work to do," stated Mr. Michelson. "Our efforts to improve underwriting results which include emphasizing disciplined pricing and risk selection, making the appropriate investments in our claims infrastructure, and offering a comprehensive risk management platform to our customers remain our primary focus."

Earnings Conference CallThe Company will hold a conference call to discuss the 2015 third quarter results on Wednesday, November 4, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time. There are two communication modes available to listen to the call. Telephone access to the conference call and Q and A session will be available by dialing (877) 837-3911. Please dial in 5 to 10 minutes prior to the scheduled starting time. The conference call will be broadcast live over the Internet. To listen to the call via the Internet, access our website at http://invest.natl.com and follow the instructions at the web cast link. The archived web cast will be available shortly after the call on our website.

Forward-Looking StatementsThis document, including any information incorporated by reference, contains "forward-looking statements" (within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995). All statements, trend analyses and other information contained in this press release relative to markets for our products and trends in our operations or financial results, as well as other statements including words such as "may," "target," "anticipate," "believe," "plan," "estimate," "expect," "intend," "project," and other similar expressions, constitute forward-looking statements. We made these statements based on our plans and current analyses of our business and the insurance industry as a whole. We caution that these statements may and often do vary from actual results and the differences between these statements and actual results can be material. Factors that could contribute to these differences include, among other things:  general economic conditions, weakness of the financial markets and other factors, including prevailing interest rate levels and stock and credit market performance, which may affect or continue to affect (among other things) our ability to sell our products and to collect amounts due to us, our ability to access capital resources and the costs associated with such access to capital and the market value of our investments; our ability to obtain adequate premium rates and manage our growth strategy; performance of securities markets; our ability to attract and retain independent agents and brokers; customer response to new products and marketing initiatives; tax law and accounting changes; increasing competition in the sale of our insurance products and services and the retention of existing customers; changes in legal environment; legal actions brought against us; regulatory changes or actions, including those relating to the regulation of the sale, underwriting and pricing of insurance products and services and capital requirements; damage to our reputation; levels of natural catastrophes, terrorist events, incidents of war and other major losses; technology or network security disruptions; adequacy of insurance reserves; and availability of reinsurance and ability of reinsurers to pay their obligations. The forward-looking statements herein are made only as of the date of this document. The Company assumes no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statements.

About National Interstate Corporation An Insurance Experience Built Around You

National Interstate Corporation (Nasdaq:NATL), founded in 1989, is the holding company for a specialty property-casualty insurance group which differentiates itself by offering products and services designed to meet the unique needs of niche markets. Products include insurance for passenger, truck, and moving and storage transportation companies, alternative risk transfer, or captive programs for commercial risks, specialty personal lines products focused primarily on recreational vehicle owners, and transportation and general commercial insurance in Hawaii and Alaska. The Company's insurance subsidiaries, including the three primary insurers, National Interstate Insurance Company, Vanliner Insurance Company and Triumphe Casualty Company, are rated "A" (Excellent) by A.M. Best Company. Headquartered in Richfield, Ohio, National Interstate is an independently operated subsidiary of Great American Insurance Company, a property-casualty subsidiary of American Financial Group, Inc. (NYSE:AFG).
NATIONAL INTERSTATE CORPORATION
SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA
(In thousands, except per share data)
       
  Three Months Ended September 30,   Nine Months Ended September 30,
  2015   2014   2015   2014
Operating Data:              
Gross premiums written $ 183,194     $ 144,247     $ 523,454     $ 489,950  
               
Net premiums written $ 159,178     $ 126,825     $ 433,613     $ 403,777  
               
Premiums earned $ 151,483     $ 140,009     $ 433,198     $ 412,651  
Net investment income   9,927       9,130       29,411       26,615  
Net realized (losses) gains on investments (*)   (3,836 )     2,622       (2,336 )     6,294  
Other   1,046       941       2,762       2,487  
Total revenues   158,620       152,702       463,035       448,047  
Losses and loss adjustment expenses   120,090       110,755       342,414       346,920  
Commissions and other underwriting expenses   24,200       24,058       70,547       70,482  
Other operating and general expenses   6,145       4,912       19,262       15,797  
Transaction expenses   -       -       -       2,163  
Expense on amounts withheld   1,602       1,971       4,755       4,952  
Interest expense   50       59       146       191  
Total expenses   152,087       141,755       437,124       440,505  
Income before income taxes   6,533       10,947       25,911       7,542  
Provision for income taxes   1,388       2,154       7,015       1,437  
Net income $ 5,145     $ 8,793     $ 18,896     $ 6,105  
               
Per Share Data:              
Net income per common share, basic $ 0.26     $ 0.44     $ 0.95     $ 0.31  
Net income per common share, diluted $ 0.26     $ 0.44     $ 0.95     $ 0.31  
               
Weighted average of common shares outstanding, basic   19,868       19,780       19,847       19,746  
Weighted average of common shares outstanding, diluted   19,916       19,853       19,896       19,823  
               
Cash dividend per common share $ 0.13     $ 0.12     $ 0.39     $ 0.36  
               
(*) Consists of the following:              
Net realized (losses) gains before impairment losses $ (706 )   $ 2,942     $ 2,168     $ 6,979  
               
Total losses on securities with impairment charges   (3,133 )     (320 )     (4,492 )     (455 )
Non-credit portion recognized in other comprehensive income   3       -       (12 )     (230 )
Net impairment charges recognized in earnings   (3,130 )     (320 )     (4,504 )     (685 )
Net realized (losses) gains on investments $ (3,836 )   $ 2,622     $ (2,336 )   $ 6,294  
               
GAAP Ratios:              
Losses and loss adjustment expense ratio   79.3 %     79.1 %     79.0 %     84.1 %
Underwriting expense ratio   19.3 %     20.0 %     20.1 %     20.3 %
Combined ratio   98.6 %     99.1 %     99.1 %     104.4 %
Return on equity (a)           6.9 %     2.3 %
Average shareholders' equity         $ 364,606     $ 355,660  
               
          At September 30,   At December 31,
          2015   2014
Balance Sheet Data (GAAP):              
Cash and invested assets         $ 1,263,283     $ 1,160,343  
Reinsurance recoverable           207,991       180,332  
Intangible assets           7,650       7,791  
Total assets           1,903,979       1,754,733  
Unpaid losses and loss adjustment expenses           976,237       883,078  
Long-term debt           12,000       12,000  
Total shareholders' equity         $ 367,123     $ 362,089  
Total shareholders' equity, excluding unrealized gains/losses on fixed maturities         $ 351,710     $ 343,376  
Book value per common share, basic (at period end)         $ 18.45     $ 18.29  
Book value per common share, excluding unrealized gains/losses on fixed maturities (at period end)         $ 17.67     $ 17.35  
Common shares outstanding at period end (b)           19,900       19,793  
               
(a) The ratio of annualized net income to average shareholders' equity at the beginning and end of the period.
(b) Common shares outstanding at period end include all vested common shares. At September 30, 2015 and December 31, 2014 there were 63,554 and 64,320, respectively, unvested common shares that were excluded from the common shares outstanding calculation. These restricted shares will be included in calculation upon vesting.

 
Contact:Gary MondaNational Interstate Corporation877-837-0339investorrelations@natl.comwww.natl.com