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W.R. Berkley (WRB) Beats on Q1 Earnings and Revenues

W.R. Berkley Corp. WRB reported first-quarter 2016 operating income of 89 cents per share that beat Zacks estimate by 1.14%. Earnings also improved 11.3% year over year.

 

Increase in revenues offset the increase in expenses leading to the outperformance. Also, the quarter witnessed favorable underwriting and our investment results.

Behind First-Quarter Headlines

W.R. Berkley’s net written premiums for the quarter were $1.6 billion, up 6% year over year. Higher premiums in Insurance and Reinsurance segments led to the improvement.

Total revenue came in at $1.8 billion, up 3.9% year over year. Investment income was up 4.7% year over year.

Operating expenses increased 3.6% due to higher losses and loss expenses as well as other operating costs.

Consolidated combined ratio (a measure of underwriting profitability) improved 40 basis points (bps) year over year to 93.5%.  

Segment Details

W.R. Berkley announced that it will report its operating results in two segments – Insurance (formerly, Insurance-Domestic and Insurance-International) and Reinsurance – effective from the first quarter of 2016.

Net premiums written in the Insurance segment increased 4.4% year over year to $1.5 billion in the first quarter. The increase was mainly from higher premiums written under workers’ compensation. Combined ratio in this segment improved by 50 bps year over year from 93.5% to 93%.

Net premiums written in the Reinsurance segment surged 16.4% year over year to $175 million due to higher premiums written under property reinsurance. Combined ratio improved by 20 bps to 97.8%.

Financial Update

W.R. Berkley exited the first quarter with total assets worth $22.2 billion, up 2.3% from year-end 2015.

Book value per share increased 4% from year-end 2015 to $38.75 as of Mar 31, 2016.  

Cash flow from operations soared a massive 131% year over year to $140.7 million.

The company’s return on equity increased 10 bps to 10.4%.

Share Repurchase Update

During the first quarter, the company spent $37.4million to buy back 0.7 million shares.

Zacks Rank and Performance of Other Insurers

W.R. Berkley carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

In the first quarter, the bottom line at RLI Corp. RLI and First American Financial FAF outperformed the respective Zacks Consensus Estimate, while The Travelers Companies, Inc.’s TRV missed for the same.
 

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RLI CORP (RLI): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
TRAVELERS COS (TRV): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
BERKLEY (WR) CP (WRB): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
FIRST AMER FINL (FAF): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
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