Travelers Reports Lower Earnings, Higher Premium Revenue

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The Travelers Cos. on Tuesday reported record revenue from premiums for the second quarter, though the property-casualty insurer’s earnings fell short of analysts’ expectations partly due to expensive catastrophe claims from wind and hail and one-time items that occurred a year earlier.

Net income for the quarter was $683 million, or $1.95 per diluted share, down 26 percent from $925 million, or $2.41 per diluted share, during the same three-month period in 2013.

Operating income for the quarter was $673 million, or $1.93 per diluted share, down 18 percent from $816 million, or $2.13 per diluted share, in 2013. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were expecting, on average, $2.07 per diluted share.

Total revenues were $6.79 billion for the quarter compared with $6.67 billion in 2013. Net written premium, the largest share of revenues, was up to $6.16 billion from $5.82 billion, largely because of the acquisition last fall of Dominion of Canada.

“Our second quarter operating income of $673 million and operating return on equity of 11.4 percent were strong, particularly given the relatively high level of catastrophe losses we experienced this quarter,” Travelers Chairman and CEO Jay Fishman said in a statement. “The comparison of these results to last year’s second quarter was meaningfully impacted by the significant increase in catastrophe losses in the current quarter as well as the inclusion of significant favorable tax and legal settlements in the prior year quarter.”

Catastrophe losses were due mostly to wind and hail, with some from tornadoes, and totaled $284 million for the quarter compared with $221 million during the same period in 2013. One-time favorable benefits during the second quarter of 2013 included $63 million from a tax matter and $59 million in legal settlements.

Travelers has steadily increased prices in its commercial lines, or Business Insurance, while enforcing stricter underwriting. Broadly in insurance, when prices increase and underwriting is more strict, the industry is said to be in a “hard market,” as opposed to a “soft market” when prices decrease and insurers are willing to take on more risk in underwriting policies. The market doesn’t appear to be softening as Travelers indicates it will continue to raise rates in some circumstances.

“There remains opportunity to further improve the product portfolio by continuing to take appropriate action on those accounts or classes of business that still do not meet our return thresholds and by achieving additional rate increases for those accounts that continue to experience unusual weather volatility,” Fishman said in a statement.

The company’s stock dove $3.01 in pre-market trading Tuesday morning to $92.25 per share.

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About Matthew Sturdevant

Full-time staff journalist at The Hartford Courant and magazine freelancer with a master's degree in writing from Dartmouth. My work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, Taiwan News, The Baltimore Sun and many other news sources. My blog has been referenced by Politico.com, the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Georgetown Law Library and a number of organizations in healthcare and business. Sturdevant’s blog is "a well-written wealth of ideas," said The Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, (businessjournalism.org, May 18, 2011). I have experience writing for newspapers, magazines, Web sites and blogs as well as shooting and editing video. I made regular appearances on news-talk radio and on the NBC affiliate station in Corpus Christi, Texas. I made occasional appearances on the Fox affiliate in Connecticut promoting Hartford Courant articles.

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