The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. reported a net loss of $46 million for the 2012 fourth quarter, in contrast to the fourth quarter of 2011 when the company posted $118 million profit.
The Hartford, Conn.-headquartered insurer also announced plans to repurchase as much as $500 million in stock and reduce debt by $1 billion.
The Hartford attributed the fourth-quarter net loss to several factors, including “higher catastrophe losses, largely from Storm Sandy, restructuring and other costs, hedging losses on runoff annuity blocks, and increased net realized capital losses due to the sales of the Retirement Plans and Individual Life businesses.”
The company said catastrophe losses in the 2012 fourth quarter were almost entirely due to Sandy. The Hartford incurred gross losses of $370 million from Sandy and net losses of $350 million, after reinsurance.
For the full-year 2012, The Hartford reported net profit of $350 million, down 51 percent compared to the full-year 2011 when the company posted $712 million profit.
The Hartford said the decline in the full-year profit was largely due to the second quarter $587 million loss on extinguishment of debt incurred as a result of the debt refinancing and increases in 2012 for net realized capital losses due to hedging of the company’s runoff annuity blocks and for restructuring and other costs from the sales of the Retirement Plans, Individual Life and other businesses.
“The Hartford had a strong finish to 2012 and the fourth quarter concluded a year of strategic accomplishments for the company,” The Hartford CEO Liam McGee said in a statement.
McGee said that following the successful close of the sales of the life businesses, The Hartford is entering 2013 with a sharper focus on the property/casualty, group benefits and mutual funds businesses.
“We are also very pleased to share our capital management plans, which will be accretive to shareholders and effectively balance a number of critical goals for The Hartford, including paying down debt, returning capital to shareholders and further strengthening our financial flexibility to take actions to reduce risk in the legacy annuity liabilities,” McGee said.
McGee said that in the fourth quarter, pricing continued to improve across the company’s P/C and group benefits businesses, with P/C standard commercial renewal written price increases of 9 percent.
He said group benefits core earnings were up significantly in the fourth quarter. Consumer markets achieved a combined ratio improvement of 2.4 points, excluding catastrophes and prior-year development. “I also want to express my appreciation for the professionalism and dedication demonstrated by my Hartford colleagues in response to Storm Sandy,” added McGee.
The company also announced that it expects to reduce debt by approximately $1 billion, including the repayment of the 2013 and 2014 debt maturities totaling $520 million. In addition, The Hartford’s board of directors has authorized a $500 million share repurchase program, expiring at Dec. 31, 2014.
Results From Property/Casualty Segments
The Hartford said its consolidated property/casualty operations’ 2012 fourth-quarter core earnings fell 58 percent to $54 million compared with the prior-year quarter due to Sandy (The fourth-quarter P/C net income was $80 million, down 42 percent from a year ago). These includes financial results of the company’s three P/C segments: P/C Commercial, Consumer Markets and P/C Other Operations.
But the full-year 2012 core earnings improved to $714 million, up 156 percent from $279 million reported for the full-year 2011 (The full-year 2012 P/C net income was $770 million, up 85 percent ) — mostly due to a reduction in unfavorable prior-year development in 2012 compared with 2011.
P/C segments’ written premiums for the 2012 fourth quarter were $2.314 billion, down 1 percent from $2.340 billion from one year ago. For the full-year 201, written premiums were $9.847 billion, down slightly from $9.852 billion for the full-year 2011.
The combined ratio for the 2012 fourth quarter was 109.2 percent, deteriorating from 102.7 percent reported during the 2011 fourth quarter. For the full-year 2012, the combined ratio improved to 101.9 percent, from 106.8 percent reported for the full-year 2011.
Catastrophe losses, before tax, for the 2012 fourth quarter were $335 million, much higher than the $14 million catastrophe losses posted one year ago. On the other hand, catastrophe losses, pre-tax, for the full-year 2012 fell to $706 million, down 5 percent from $745 million for the full-year 2011.
Unfavorable prior year development totaled $9 million, before tax, in the 2012 fourth quarter, compared with an unfavorable $98 million, before tax, in the fourth quarter of 2011. For the full-year 2012, prior-year development was favorable by $4 million, before tax, compared with unfavorable prior-year development of $367 million, before tax, in 2011.
Here is a closer look at the individual P/C segments:
P/C Commercial Segment
• The 2012 fourth-quarter underwriting losses were $193 million, compared with $141 million in the fourth quarter of 2011, driven by higher catastrophes, partially offset by lower unfavorable prior year development.
• Continued pricing and underwriting initiatives and lower unfavorable prior-year development resulted in improved P/C commercial underwriting losses of $182 million in 2012 compared with $279 million in 2011.
• Standard commercial renewal written price increases rose to 9 percent in the 2012 fourth quarter compared with 5 percent in the prior-year quarter; they rose to 8 percent in the full-year 2012 compared with 4 percent in 2011.
• Renewal written price increases in middle market workers’ compensation were 15 percent and 14 percent in the fourth-quarter 2012 and full-year 2012, respectively.
Consumer Markets Segment
• 2012 new auto and homeowners business premium rose 15 percent compared with 2011, due to growth in AARP Agency and AARP Direct.
• 2012 combined ratio, excluding catastrophes and prior year development, improved to 90.0 in the 2012 fourth quarter compared with 92.4 in the fourth quarter of 2011.
• 2012 combined ratio, excluding catastrophes and prior year development, improved to 90.8 compared with 91.9 in 2011.
• Auto and homeowners fourth quarter 2012 policy count retention improved 3 points and 4 points, respectively, compared with the fourth quarter of 2011; policy count retention improved 2 points to 85 percent and 86 percent, respectively, for the full-year 2012 compared with 2011.
P/C Other Operations Segment
• Fourth-quarter 2012 underwriting loss was $15 million compared to a loss of $14 million in the fourth quarter of 2011.
• 2012 underwriting loss was $100 million compared with a loss of $344 million in 2011.