The Hartford stayed true to its mission in 2003, held closely to its core values and emerged a stronger company in a better competitive position, Ramani Ayer, chairman and CEO of The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. (NYSE:HIG), said at the company’s annual shareholder meeting.
Ayer pointed to a 61 percent rise in year-over-year net income, excluding the first quarter 2003 asbestos charge, to a record $1.6 billion, and to the company’s share price, which has soared 61 percent above where it was at the time of last year’s annual meeting.
Other highlights of last year’s results include a 14 percent increase in revenue to $18.7 billion and a 26 percent rise in total assets under management to $250.4 billion.
“Our success was driven by doing business The Hartford way,” Ayer added. “We value extraordinary people; we are disciplined and have a healthy respect for risk; we do the right thing, not necessarily the easy thing; we focus on execution, decisiveness and innovation; and we’re relentlessly committed to providing outstanding service.
“Doing business The Hartford way does more than explain our past performance — it’s also the key to our future growth,” said Ayer.
The chairman noted that The Hartford’s property-casualty operations had a tremendous year in 2003 by focusing on its core businesses. In 2004 Ayer said the company’s emphasis includes:
* Aggressively courting small businesses with between $5 million and $15 million in annual sales. The company’s recently-launched Spectrum Xpand product, created for the larger small business, drove small commercial premium growth of 17 percent in the first quarter of 2004;
* Growing its position in the personal lines marketplace with the company’s new Dimensions auto and homeowners programs sold through independent agents. Dimensions contributed to a 43 percent increase in total personal lines new business in the first quarter of 2004 as compared to the first quarter of 2003;
* Focusing on The Hartford’s successful AARP auto and homeowners
insurance program for AARP members, which has long been a mainstay of the company’s property-casualty operation; and
* Strengthening partnerships with the company’s independent agents by providing leading-edge technology, hassle-free service and a local market presence where agents do their business.
In The Hartford’s life operations, Ayer stated, improving demographics is one of many reasons the company expects continued growth.
“This new generation of older Americans will be wealthier and live longer than any before it. Potential customers understand that we are a financially disciplined company and that we’ll be there when they need us,” he said.
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