30 October 2014News

Axis Capital benefits from low cat losses in Q3

Bermuda-based Axis Capital enjoyed a strong third quarter as it benefitted from low catastrophe losses, portfolio diversification and ongoing favourable reserve development.

Its profits more than doubled in the third quarter of 2014 hitting $279 million, compared with $137 million for the third quarter of 2013. For the nine months ended September 30, 2014, its profits hiked to $607 million, compared with $512 million for the corresponding period of 2013.

Axis’ operating income for the third quarter of 2014 deteriorated, however, to $133 million, compared with $197 million for the third quarter of 2013.

Its gross premiums written also fell with a decrease of 1 percent to $897 million, with a decrease of 3 percent in its insurance segment premiums partially offset by increases in written premiums of 3 percent in its reinsurance segment.

Axis’ combined ratio was 92.2 percent, compared with 86.3 percent in the third quarter of 2013. The company estimated natural catastrophe and weather-related pre-tax net losses of $22 million, primarily related to weather events in North America, compared to $51 million (net of reinstatement premiums) incurred during the third quarter of 2013.

Albert Benchimol, president and chief executive officer of AXIS Capital, said: "We are pleased to report third quarter operating income of $133 million, or $1.27 per diluted share, and annualised operating ROE of 10.1 percent.

“We delivered strong underwriting results reflecting low catastrophe losses in the quarter, ongoing favourable reserve development and the value of our diversification, as well as the benefits of a more holistic approach to risk management.

“Investment results, however, were encumbered by the weak returns of the global equity markets. Our diluted book value per share adjusted for dividends, a key measure of shareholder value creation, is now 14 percent above last year's level. Against a backdrop of more challenging market conditions, we believe our market reputation for superior service, strong capital and superior ratings will allow AXIS to enhance its position and access profitable business.

“We will continue to balance prudent growth and active capital management. So far this year, we have repurchased 9 percent of our beginning outstanding common shares, for aggregate consideration of $469 million, thus returning to shareholders 126 percent of the year-to-date operating income in the form of dividends and share repurchases."