The FINANCIAL — Swiss Re reported a strong Group net income of USD 1.4 billion for the first quarter of 2015. Property & Casualty Reinsurance again led the positive contributions from all Business Units.
Life & Health Reinsurance net income increased to USD 277 million and the segment is on track to meet its return on equity target for the year. Corporate Solutions continued to generate profitable growth with a net income of USD 167 million. Admin Re delivered excellent net income growth and gross cash generation in line with expectations. Despite the ongoing challenges from further declining interest rates and market uncertainty, Swiss Re delivered a strong return on investments of 3.9%. Swiss Re is on track to reach its 2011-2015 financial targets by the end of this year, according to Swiss Re.
Michel M. Liès, Swiss Re’s Group Chief Executive Officer, says: “The current market and interest rate environment continues to be very challenging. For that reason, I am all the more pleased to say that we have been able to further grow our business profitably and achieve strong results thanks to our client-centred, differentiated approach and diversified business model. In addition, the result shows our ability to manage our risk portfolios to better mitigate challenges and seize market opportunities.”
Strong Group net income and investment result
Swiss Re’s Group net income of USD 1.4 billion in the first quarter of 2015 was 17% higher than the USD 1.2 billion reported for Q1 2014. Premiums earned and fee income of USD 7.6 billion for the Group was in line with the prior-year quarter. Measured at constant foreign exchange rates, premiums earned and fee income increased by 7%.
The investment result was strong at USD 1.1 billion (vs USD 1.1 billion in Q1 2014). The annualised return on investments increased to 3.9% in the first quarter of 2015 (vs 3.7%).
The Group’s Swiss Solvency Test (SST) ratio was 223% as reflected in the submission to FINMA at the end of April 2015, reaffirming the Group’s very strong capital position.
David Cole, Swiss Re’s Group Chief Financial Officer, says: “The first quarter has seen all Business Units deliver a very good start to the year. We’re especially pleased that our Life & Health business is on track to meet our profitability target. We’ve also been able to achieve a strong investment result despite ongoing low interest rates amid an environment of financial repression.”
P&C Re reported net income of USD 808 million
In the first quarter of 2015, P&C Re reported net income of USD 808 million (vs USD 990 million in Q1 2014). The result benefited from benign natural catastrophe experience and a good underwriting result. These were offset by price softening and less positive reserve developments than in the prior-year period.
Premiums earned during the first quarter decreased slightly to USD 3.77 billion compared to the USD 3.81 billion in the first quarter of 2014, mainly due to foreign exchange translations. If measured at constant foreign exchange rates, premiums would have increased by 6%. This underlying increase was driven by further growth in the casualty business, particularly in the US and EMEA regions.
The P&C Re combined ratio during the first three months of the year was 84.4% (vs 79.2%), benefiting from a lower than expected level of natural catastrophe losses and reserve releases.
L&H Re net income of USD 277 million
L&H Re reported net income of USD 277 million (vs USD 64 million in Q1 2014) and ROE was 17.2%. The result benefited from realised gains and positive foreign exchange developments. Excluding these items, and on an equity base as at 30 June 2013, ROE was 11.6%. The segment is on track to reach its ROE target of 10%-12% by the end of 2015.
Premiums earned and fee income was steady at USD 2.7 billion. Premiums were higher in all markets, driven by new business in Asia and the US. At constant foreign exchange rates, underlying premiums grew by 9%. The operating margin for the first three months was 9.6% (vs 10.1%).
Corporate Solutions reported a strong net income of USD 167 million, ROE of 29.0%
Corporate Solutions’ net income was USD 167 million (vs USD 80 million in Q1 2014), reflecting a continued strong business performance across a diversified portfolio. The result was also supported by the absence of any large natural catastrophe events during the first quarter.
Premiums earned grew 6% to USD 882 million (vs USD 830 million). At constant foreign exchange rates, the underlying premium growth was 9% compared to the prior-year period. All regions contributed to the increase, with the highest growth seen in Latin America and Europe. The overall pace of growth slowed due to a challenging market environment.
The Business Unit’s combined ratio was 87.8% for the quarter (vs 95.2% in the prior-year period), driven by lower losses in property and speciality lines.
As part of its High Growth Markets initiative, Corporate Solutions has obtained a license to operate in South Africa, a further step to expand its footprint in these markets.
Admin Re net income of USD 206 million; gross cash generation of USD 52 million
Admin Re delivered a net income of USD 206 million in the first quarter of 2015 (vs USD 48 million in Q1 2014). The increase was due to higher realised gains from asset sales, favourable UK linked market performance and positive tax effects in the UK.
Gross cash generation was USD 52 million for the quarter (vs USD 202 million). The comparatively higher 2014 figure resulted from a one-off impact arising from the finalisation of the UK 2013 statutory result.
On 1 April 2015, the sale of the US subsidiary Aurora National Life Assurance Company (Aurora) to Reinsurance Group of America, Incorporated (RGA) was successfully completed at previously announced terms.
Admin Re continues to execute on its strategic focus on the UK, where the Business Unit is strongly positioned to seek further new business opportunities and deliver on its ambitious dividend and gross cash generation objectives.
April renewals show growth with attractive price quality
The April treaty renewals saw Swiss Re increase the volume of renewed business by 7%, with the majority of the growth stemming from High Growth Markets. The price quality overall remains attractive despite further softening in property catastrophe rates.
Swiss Re on track to reach its 2011—2015 financial targets
Group return on equity was 16.1% in the quarter and earnings per share were USD 4.21 (vs USD 3.58 in Q1 2014).
Michel M. Liès, Swiss Re’s Group Chief Executive Officer, says: “We have nine months until the end of our financial target period 2011-2015 and we are on track to deliver on the commitments we made to our shareholders. Despite a challenging overall environment, the insurance market offers ample opportunities and we remain well placed to address the significant levels of underinsurance in the world today. In addition, our data shows that there were more natural catastrophes in 2014 than in any other year on our records – yet, over two-thirds of the world’s assets do not yet have any financial protection from these events. We remain firm in our commitment to help our insurance clients to meet this challenge in a profitable and sustainable manner.”