W. R. Berkley Corporation Reports Third Quarter Results

W. R. Berkley Corporation (NYSE: WRB) today reported its third quarter 2020 results.

Summary Financial Data

(Amounts in thousands, except per share data)

Third Quarter

Nine Months

2020

2019

2020

2019

Gross premiums written

$

2,262,545

$

2,093,050

$

6,626,163

$

6,229,141

Net premiums written

1,879,316

1,749,906

5,464,980

5,202,971

Net income to common stockholders

151,678

165,208

218,520

562,638

Net income per diluted share

0.81

0.85

1.15

2.91

Operating income (1)

121,146

163,761

265,210

451,528

Operating income per diluted share

0.65

0.85

1.40

2.33

Return on equity (2)

10.0%

12.2%

4.8%

13.8%

 

(1) Operating income is a non-GAAP financial measure defined by the Company as net income excluding after-tax net investment gains (losses) and related expenses.

(2) Return on equity represents net income expressed on an annualized basis as a percentage of beginning of year stockholders’ equity.

Third quarter highlights included:

  • Average rate increases excluding workers' compensation were approximately 14.5%.
  • The reported combined ratio was 93.7%. The accident year combined ratio before catastrophe losses was 89.8%.
  • Catastrophes added 4.2 loss ratio points to the reported combined ratio, with no change in previously reported COVID-19 related losses.
  • Gross and net premiums written increased 8.1% and 7.4%, respectively.
  • Book value per share grew 3.7%, before dividends and share repurchases.
  • Cash and liquid investments of more than $1.6 billion at the holding company.

The Company commented:

The Company reported strong third quarter 2020 results with a combined ratio of 93.7%, in spite of 4.2 points of catastrophe losses. Gross premiums written grew more than 8%, even with the economic disruption and extraordinary challenges COVID-19 presented. Rate increases continued to accelerate in response to rising loss costs and the extremely low interest rate environment. Growth and efficiency initiatives have helped drive our expense ratio to its lowest level in many years.

The Company continues to actively manage market exposure in its investment portfolio by increasing its allocation to high-quality short-term assets, including cash and cash equivalents, which has somewhat moderated fixed-maturity income. We will maintain this defensive position until the uncertainty in the financial markets and the economy begins to abate, and we find a more attractive entry point. Income from investment funds in the third quarter returned to a more normalized level.

The industry’s need for disciplined underwriting and additional rate has been reinforced by, among other factors, the global pandemic, the continued increase in the frequency of catastrophe losses, the ongoing impacts of social inflation and the low interest rate environment. We remain focused on profitable underwriting with low volatility, growth in attractive areas of the market, and total risk-adjusted returns in our investment portfolio.

Our Company is built to succeed in periods of uncertainty through a constant evaluation of risk and reward in all aspects of our business, and to excel in periods of market improvement. The momentum is building, and we are excited for the opportunity before us.

Webcast Conference Call

The Company will hold its quarterly conference call with analysts and investors to discuss its earnings and other information on October 20, 2020, at 5:00 p.m. eastern time. The conference call will be webcast live on the Company's website at https://ir.berkley.com/news-and-events/events-and-presentations/default.aspx. Please log on at least ten minutes early to register and download and install any necessary software. A replay of the webcast will be available on the Company's website approximately two hours after the end of the conference call. Additional financial information can be found on the Company's website at https://ir.berkley.com/investor-relations/financial-information/annual-reports/default.aspx.

About W. R. Berkley Corporation

Founded in 1967, W. R. Berkley Corporation is an insurance holding company that is among the largest commercial lines writers in the United States and operates worldwide in two segments of the property casualty business: Insurance and Reinsurance & Monoline Excess.

Forward Looking Information

This is a “Safe Harbor” Statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Any forward-looking statements contained herein, including statements related to our outlook for the industry and for our performance for the year 2020 and beyond, are based upon the Company’s historical performance and on current plans, estimates and expectations. The inclusion of this forward-looking information should not be regarded as a representation by us or any other person that the future plans, estimates or expectations contemplated by us will be achieved. They are subject to various risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to: the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including the related impact on the U.S. and global economies; the cyclical nature of the property casualty industry; the impact of significant competition, including new alternative entrants to the industry; the long-tail and potentially volatile nature of the insurance and reinsurance business; product demand and pricing; claims development and the process of estimating reserves; investment risks, including those of our portfolio of fixed maturity securities and investments in equity securities, including investments in financial institutions, municipal bonds, mortgage-backed securities, loans receivable, investment funds, including real estate, merger arbitrage, energy related and private equity investments; the effects of emerging claim and coverage issues; the uncertain nature of damage theories and loss amounts, including claims for cybersecurity-related risks; natural and man-made catastrophic losses, including as a result of terrorist activities, epidemics or pandemics, such as COVID-19; the impact of climate change, which may increase the frequency and severity of catastrophe events; general economic and market activities, including inflation, interest rates, and volatility in the credit and capital markets; the impact of the conditions in the financial markets and the global economy, and the potential effect of legislative, regulatory, accounting or other initiatives taken in response, on our results and financial condition; foreign currency and political risks (including those associated with the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union, or "Brexit") relating to our international operations; our ability to attract and retain key personnel and qualified employees; continued availability of capital and financing; the success of our new ventures or acquisitions and the availability of other opportunities; the availability of reinsurance; our retention under the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2019; the ability or willingness of our reinsurers to pay reinsurance recoverables owed to us; other legislative and regulatory developments, including those related to business practices in the insurance industry; credit risk related to our policyholders, independent agents and brokers; changes in the ratings assigned to us or our insurance company subsidiaries by rating agencies; the availability of dividends from our insurance company subsidiaries; potential difficulties with technology and/or cyber security issues; the effectiveness of our controls to ensure compliance with guidelines, policies and legal and regulatory standards; and other risks detailed from time to time in the Company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. These risks and uncertainties could cause our actual results for the year 2020 and beyond to differ materially from those expressed in any forward-looking statement we make. Any projections of growth in our revenues would not necessarily result in commensurate levels of earnings. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date on which they are made, and the Company undertakes no obligation to update publicly or revise any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future developments or otherwise.

Consolidated Financial Summary

(Amounts in thousands, except per share data)

Third Quarter

Nine Months

2020

2019

2020

2019

Revenues:

Net premiums written

$

1,879,316

$

1,749,906

$

5,464,980

$

5,202,971

Change in unearned premiums

(130,395

)

(73,096

)

(347,727

)

(286,464

)

Net premiums earned

1,748,921

1,676,810

5,117,253

4,916,507

Net investment income

142,650

161,692

402,844

508,279

Net investment gains (losses):

Net realized and unrealized (losses) gains on investments

(7,772

)

1,465

(89,404

)

143,691

Change in allowance for credit losses on investments (1)

46,750

29,093

Net investment gains (losses)

38,978

1,465

(60,311

)

143,691

Revenues from non-insurance businesses

87,495

101,880

256,966

283,005

Insurance service fees

21,635

23,681

67,256

71,440

Other income

140

188

2,446

3,200

Total revenues

2,039,819

1,965,716

5,786,454

5,926,122

Expenses:

Losses and loss expenses

1,114,632

1,041,471

3,357,011

3,058,950

Other operating costs and expenses

593,969

581,045

1,753,142

1,760,961

Expenses from non-insurance businesses

85,036

101,743

256,032

280,141

Interest expense

39,768

38,475

114,874

119,913

Total expenses

1,833,405

1,762,734

5,481,059

5,219,965

Income before income taxes

206,414

202,982

305,395

706,157

Income tax expense

(54,048

)

(37,831

)

(84,900

)

(141,965

)

Net income before noncontrolling interests

152,366

165,151

220,495

564,192

Noncontrolling interests

(688

)

57

(1,975

)

(1,554

)

Net income to common stockholders

$

151,678

$

165,208

$

218,520

$

562,638

Net income per share:

Basic

$

0.82

$

0.87

$

1.17

$

2.95

Diluted

$

0.81

$

0.85

$

1.15

$

2.91

Average shares outstanding (2):

Basic

185,765

190,862

187,338

190,593

Diluted

187,717

193,589

189,515

193,557

(1) The inclusion of the allowance for credit losses on investments commenced January 1, 2020 due to the adoption of ASU 2016-13.

(2) Basic shares outstanding consist of the weighted average number of common shares outstanding during the period (including shares held in a grantor trust). Diluted shares outstanding consist of the weighted average number of basic and common equivalent shares outstanding during the period.

Business Segment Operating Results

(Amounts in thousands, except ratios) (1)

Third Quarter

Nine Months

2020

2019

2020

2019

Insurance:

Gross premiums written

$

1,981,816

$

1,850,012

$

5,841,328

$

5,565,862

Net premiums written

1,628,316

1,529,113

4,754,791

4,601,077

Premiums earned

1,531,093

1,493,854

4,481,092

4,396,071

Pre-tax income

178,971

202,390

431,464

612,777

Loss ratio

64.4

%

61.8

%

65.5

%

62.3

%

Expense ratio

29.7

%

31.2

%

30.6

%

31.3

%

GAAP combined ratio

94.1

%

93.0

%

96.1

%

93.6

%

Reinsurance & Monoline Excess:

Gross premiums written

$

280,729

$

243,038

$

784,835

$

663,279

Net premiums written

251,000

220,793

710,189

601,894

Premiums earned

217,828

182,956

636,161

520,436

Pre-tax income

61,532

46,863

110,611

144,353

Loss ratio

59.1

%

64.6

%

66.5

%

61.6

%

Expense ratio

31.2

%

33.7

%

32.1

%

35.2

%

GAAP combined ratio

90.3

%

98.3

%

98.6

%

96.8

%

Corporate and Eliminations:

Net investment gains (losses)

$

38,978

$

1,465

$

(60,311

)

$

143,691

Interest expense

(39,768

)

(38,475

)

(114,874

)

(119,913

)

Other revenues and expenses

(33,299

)

(9,261

)

(61,495

)

(74,751

)

Pre-tax loss

(34,089

)

(46,271

)

(236,680

)

(50,973

)

Consolidated:

Gross premiums written

$

2,262,545

$

2,093,050

$

6,626,163

$

6,229,141

Net premiums written

1,879,316

1,749,906

5,464,980

5,202,971

Premiums earned

1,748,921

1,676,810

5,117,253

4,916,507

Pre-tax income

206,414

202,982

305,395

706,157

Loss ratio

63.7

%

62.1

%

65.6

%

62.2

%

Expense ratio

30.0

%

31.5

%

30.8

%

31.7

%

GAAP combined ratio

93.7

%

93.6

%

96.4

%

93.9

%

(1) Loss ratio is losses and loss expenses incurred expressed as a percentage of premiums earned. Expense ratio is underwriting expenses expressed as a percentage of premiums earned. GAAP combined ratio is the sum of the loss ratio and the expense ratio.

Supplemental Information

(Amounts in thousands)

Third Quarter

Nine Months

2020

2019

2020

2019

Net premiums written:

Other liability

$

606,967

$

553,802

$

1,748,338

$

1,607,613

Short-tail lines (1)

343,888

318,310

974,941

934,757

Workers' compensation

257,629

303,116

857,951

997,733

Commercial automobile

230,352

196,851

648,842

608,533

Professional liability

189,480

157,034

524,719

452,441

Total Insurance

1,628,316

1,529,113

4,754,791

4,601,077

Casualty reinsurance

142,847

132,335

419,235

343,541

Monoline excess

59,267

49,851

154,105

141,572

Property reinsurance

48,886

38,607

136,849

116,781

Total Reinsurance & Monoline Excess

251,000

220,793

710,189

601,894

Total

$

1,879,316

$

1,749,906

$

5,464,980

$

5,202,971

Losses from catastrophes (including COVID-19 related losses):

Insurance

$

74,038

$

15,381

$

244,657

$

53,444

Reinsurance & Monoline Excess

(1,282

)

16,079

$

52,733

16,178

Total

$

72,756

$

31,460

297,390

$

69,622

Net investment income:

Core portfolio (2)

$

104,872

$

134,259

$

349,598

$

404,812

Investment funds

18,235

19,033

1,260

77,284

Arbitrage trading account

19,543

8,400

51,986

26,183

Total

$

142,650

$

161,692

$

402,844

$

508,279

Net realized and unrealized (losses) gains on investments:

Net realized (losses) gains on investments

$

(38,466

)

$

(2,761

)

$

(27,545

)

$

27,969

Change in unrealized gains (losses) on equity securities

30,694

4,226

(61,859

)

115,722

Total

$

(7,772

)

$

1,465

$

(89,404

)

$

143,691

Other operating costs and expenses:

Policy acquisition and insurance operating expenses

$

523,349

$

528,399

$

1,574,507

$

1,560,350

Insurance service expenses

21,034

26,171

64,029

77,513

Net foreign currency losses (gains)

5,078

(22,590

)

(23,845

)

(29,084

)

Other costs and expenses

44,508

49,065

138,451

152,182

Total

$

593,969

$

581,045

$

1,753,142

$

1,760,961

Cash flow from operations

$

557,094

$

392,398

$

1,136,945

$

795,044

Reconciliation of net income to operating income:

Net income

$

151,678

$

165,208

$

218,520

$

562,638

Pre-tax investment (gains) losses, net of related expenses

(39,497

)

(1,552

)

60,311

(140,797

)

Income tax expense (benefit)

8,965

105

(13,621

)

29,687

Operating income after-tax (3)

$

121,146

$

163,761

$

265,210

$

451,528

(1) Short-tail lines include commercial multi-peril (non-liability), inland marine, accident and health, fidelity and surety, boiler and machinery and other lines.

(2) Core portfolio includes fixed maturity securities, equity securities, cash and cash equivalents, real estate and loans receivable.

(3) Operating income is a non-GAAP financial measure defined by the Company as net income excluding after-tax net investment gains (losses). Net investment gains (losses) are computed net of related expenses, including performance-based compensatory costs associated with realized investment gains. Management believes this measurement provides a useful indicator of trends in the Company’s underlying operations.

Selected Balance Sheet Information

(Amounts in thousands, except per share data)

September 30,
2020

December 31,
2019

Net invested assets (1)

$

21,023,658

$

19,856,776

Total assets

28,212,370

26,630,030

Reserves for losses and loss expenses

13,459,359

12,583,249

Senior notes and other debt

1,629,077

1,427,575

Subordinated debentures

1,443,736

1,198,704

Common stockholders’ equity (2)

5,995,112

6,074,939

Common stock outstanding (3)

178,218

183,412

Book value per share (4)

33.64

33.12

Tangible book value per share (4)

32.38

31.87

(1) Net invested assets include investments, cash and cash equivalents, trading accounts receivable from brokers and clearing organizations, trading account securities sold but not yet purchased and unsettled purchases, net of related liabilities.

(2) As of September 30, 2020, reflected in common stockholders' equity are after-tax unrealized investment gains of $247 million and unrealized currency translation losses of $418 million. As of December 31, 2019, after-tax unrealized investment gains were $125 million and unrealized currency translation losses were $382 million.

(3) During the three months ended September 30, 2020, the Company repurchased 216,764 shares of its common stock for $13 million. During the nine months ended September 30, 2020, the Company repurchased 5,820,867 shares of its common stock for $312 million. The number of shares of common stock outstanding excludes shares held in a grantor trust.

(4) Book value per share is total common stockholders’ equity divided by the number of common shares outstanding. Tangible book value per share is total common stockholders’ equity excluding the after-tax value of goodwill and other intangible assets divided by the number of common shares outstanding.

Investment Portfolio

September 30, 2020

(Amounts in thousands)

Carrying
Value

Percent
of Total

Fixed maturity securities:

United States government and government agencies

$

697,432

3.3

%

State and municipal:

Special revenue

$

2,305,308

11.0

%

Local general obligation

438,272

2.1

%

State general obligation

429,652

2.0

%

Pre-refunded

285,224

1.4

%

Corporate backed

232,600

1.1

%

Total state and municipal

3,691,056

17.6

%

Mortgage-backed securities:

Agency

613,680

2.9

%

Residential - Prime

260,362

1.2

%

Commercial

206,025

1.0

%

Residential - Alt A

9,168

%

Total mortgage-backed securities

1,089,235

5.2

%

Asset-backed securities

3,306,439

15.7

%

Corporate:

Industrial

2,326,598

11.1

%

Financial

1,524,636

7.3

%

Utilities

355,619

1.7

%

Other

32,687

0.2

%

Total corporate

4,239,540

20.2

%

Foreign government

869,344

4.1

%

Total fixed maturity securities (1)

13,893,046

66.1

%

Equity securities available for sale:

Preferred stocks

274,445

1.3

%

Common stocks

160,858

0.8

%

Total equity securities available for sale

435,303

2.1

%

Cash and cash equivalents (2)

2,745,523

13.1

%

Real estate

2,106,474

10.0

%

Investment funds (3)

1,162,814

5.5

%

Arbitrage trading account

595,727

2.8

%

Loans receivable

84,771

0.4

%

Net invested assets

$

21,023,658

100.0

%

(1) Total fixed maturity securities had an average rating of AA- and an average duration of 2.3 years, including cash and cash equivalents.

(2) Cash and cash equivalents includes trading accounts receivable from brokers and clearing organizations, trading account securities sold but not yet purchased and unsettled purchases.

(3) Investment funds are net of related liabilities of $0.9 million.

Contacts:

Karen A. Horvath
Vice President - External
Financial Communications
(203) 629-3000

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