Allstate’s Investments Up, Disaster Costs Down in Q2

By | August 1, 2013

Allstate Corp., the largest publicly traded U.S. auto and home insurer, said second-quarter profit climbed on investment gains and reduced costs tied to natural disasters.

Net income climbed 2.6 percent to $434 million, or 92 cents a share, from $423 million, or 86 cents, a year earlier, the Northbrook, Illinois-based company said yesterday in a statement. Operating profit, which excludes some investment results, was $1.12 a share, beating by 14 cents the average estimate of 24 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Chief Executive Officer Thomas Wilson has sought to improve margins at the insurer’s property-casualty business by purchasing reinsurance, raising rates for homeowner’s coverage and exiting some markets after severe weather boosted claims costs. Those changes hurt sales of Allstate brand auto insurance because the products are often bundled together.

“We’re a long way toward having that business restructured” and the negative impact is diminishing, Wilson said in an interview. Policies in force for the company’s namesake brand of auto and home coverage should “continue to trend upward from here.”

Allstate rose 32 cents to $51.30 yesterday in extended trading in New York. The insurer had gained 27 percent this year before the release, compared with the 29 percent advance in the 22-company Standard & Poor’s 500 Insurance Index.

Catastrophes cost Allstate $647 million in the quarter compared with $819 million a year earlier. The insurer made 3.9 cents for every premium dollar in its property and liability coverage unit compared with a profit of 2 cents a year earlier.

Premium Revenue

Premium revenue in Allstate’s property-and-liability business rose to $6.86 billion in the second quarter from $6.67 billion a year earlier as the company retained more customers and issued more of its namesake brand of policies.

Realized investment gains rose to $362 million from $27 million a year earlier. The insurer has been selling some of its bonds after falling yields pushed up prices in recent quarters.

That trend reversed in the three months ended June 30 when Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke signaled that the central bank may begin tapering some of its stimulus efforts this year. Ten-year Treasury yields rose to 2.49 percent from 1.85 percent in the first quarter.

The rise in rates lopped $2.73 billion in net unrealized investment gains off Allstate’s balance sheet. Book value, a measure of assets minus liabilities, declined to $41.63 a share from $43.46 at the end of March.

Results in the quarter were hurt by Allstate’s plan to retire some debt early. Wilson said in May that the company was taking advantage of the low cost of capital and lengthening the maturity of the company’s borrowing. Repaying $1.83 billion of its bonds lowered earnings by $312 million in the quarter.

Combined Ratios

Allstate said the second quarter combined ratio for standard auto was 97.0, slightly better than the prior year quarter. For the Allstate brand, which comprises the majority of the auto earned premium, the recorded combined ratio was 94.9, 0.6 points better than prior year, with an underlying combined ratio of 94.2, 0.8 points higher than the second quarter 2012. Frequency was essentially flat while severity increased modestly.

The Encompass brand recorded a standard auto combined ratio of 104.4, an improvement of 4.8 points, reflecting the impact of price increases. The Esurance brand standard auto combined ratio increased 2.8 points to 119.5 due to the increased volume of new business, higher bodily injury severities and increased utilization of price discounts. The company said Esurance is in the process of adjusting its pricing and underwriting.

In the second quarter, Allstate homeowners recorded a combined ratio of 95.3, a 9.1 point improvement from the prior year quarter, primarily due to reduced catastrophe losses. The Allstate brand homeowners underlying combined ratio was 62.7, a 1.9 point improvement from the second quarter 2012. Rate increases continued to positively impact results and both frequency and severity exhibited modest increases in the quarter.

Editors: Dan Reichl, Dan Kraut

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