Device Insurer Bought by Allstate for $1.4 Billion Lost Money Last 5 Years

By | January 5, 2017

Allstate Corp. said that the mobile-device insurer that it acquired for $1.4 billion had posted five years of losses before the deal.

SquareTrade Holding Co.’s annual loss narrowed to $26.5 million in 2015 from $37.4 million in 2014, Northbrook, Illinois-based Allstate said Wednesday in a regulatory filing that announced the completion of the transaction. Allstate, which is the largest publicly traded home and auto insurer in the U.S., declined to disclose SquareTrade’s financial data when the deal was announced in November, saying that figures would be made available early in 2017.

Allstate Chief Executive Officer Tom Wilson is diversifying operations as the auto insurance industry faces disruption from driverless cars and ride-sharing services like Uber Technologies Inc. When analysts pushed for more clarity around SquareTrade’s metrics, the CEO said that revenue was climbing and that the company, started in 1999, has opportunities to expand.

SquareTrade offers protection plans for smartphones, laptops, tablets, televisions, home appliances, cameras and other devices.

“We think this has a lot of upside,” Wilson said in a November call with analysts, comparing the acquisition to buying a sports team. “In this particular case, we look really at the cash flow generation capacity for the business.”

SquareTrade’s revenue climbed 29 percent to $248.6 million in 2015, and has jumped more than fivefold since 2012, according to the regulatory filing. The company, which has relationships with retailers including Costco Wholesale Corp. and Target Corp., was previously owned by investors including Bain Capital.

‘Somewhat High’

The price that Allstate paid is “somewhat high,” given SquareTrade’s revenue, Meyer Shields, an analyst at Keefe Bruyette & Woods, said in a note to clients Wednesday. Still, he cited improving margins, and the prospect that Wilson can bolster the operation, helping to diversify risks.

“The increased warranty exposure should generally benefit Allstate’s underwriting results,” Shields wrote.The acquisition is Wilson’s largest, after buying companies including Esurance in 2011 for about $1 billion to expand sales of auto coverage through the internet. Allstate previously said that the SquareTrade deal would dilute earnings for three years.

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Latest Comments

  • January 9, 2017 at 3:34 pm
    jay says:
    3 times, you're lucky if you get 2 times, best choice is to give it back to the good hands for 1 1/2 before they change their mind.
  • January 6, 2017 at 9:36 am
    Agent says:
    Einstein, what a deal. The standard in the industry is about 3 times revenue on a sale.
  • January 5, 2017 at 10:43 pm
    Einstein says:
    Jack, I will offer you 6x the revenue.
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