ACE Net Up 50 Percent In Quarter

By SUSANNE SCLAFANE
National Underwriter News
April 29, 2009


Zurich-based ACE Limited management said a decrease in investment losses boosted first-quarter net income to $567 million, up 50 percent over the comparable period last year.

Excluding realized investment losses from both first-quarter periods, operating income declined 8 percent to $669 million this year.

On a per-share basis, net income was $1.69 per share for first-quarter 2009, compared to $1.10 in the comparable quarter last year.

Excluding the impact of realized investment losses of $102 million for first-quarter 2009 and $348 million for first-quarter 2008, operating income was $1.99 per share for first-quarter 2009 versus $2.14 per share for first-quarter 2008.

During the quarter, overall net premiums climbed 8.5 percent to $3.4 billion, with $346 million of the total premiums coming from life operations. Excluding life operations, property-casualty premiums (including international accident and health premiums) were essentially flat at $3.1 billion in both the first quarters of 2009 and 2008.

Evan Greenberg, ACE's chairman and chief executive officer, said the strong U.S. dollar had "a substantial and negative impact" on p-c premium revenue, noting that p-c premiums grew 7 percent after adjusting for foreign exchange.

"We benefited from a generally firming market, particularly in our p-c reinsurance and global retail p-c insurance businesses," he said in a statement.

ACE's p-c combined ratio came in at 87.5 for first-quarter 2009, compared to 84.6 in first-quarter 2008.

Within individual segments, net premiums for global reinsurance increased the most—rising 4.4 percent to $359 million or 11 percent on a constant-dollar basis after being adjusted for foreign exchange impacts, according to ACE.

The global reinsurance segment, however, is the smallest part of the p-c book, accounting for about 12 percent of the $3.1 billion premium total.

In the largest segment, North American insurance, net premiums rose 2.5 percent to $1.4 billion.

Premiums for ACE's overseas insurance book fell 1.3 percent; but again, ACE said foreign exchange impacts distorted the year-over-year comparison. According to ACE, the segment had a double-digit premium increase of 10 percent on a constant-dollar basis.

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