Bloomberg Anywhere Login

Bloomberg

Connecting decision makers to a dynamic network of information, people and ideas, Bloomberg quickly and accurately delivers business and financial information, news and insight around the world.

Company

Financial Products

Enterprise Products

Media

Customer Support

  • Americas

    +1 212 318 2000

  • Europe, Middle East, & Africa

    +44 20 7330 7500

  • Asia Pacific

    +65 6212 1000

Communications

Industry Products

Media Services

Follow Us

Travelers Profit More Than Triples as Claims Costs Drop

Travelers Cos. Chief Executive Officer Jay Fishman boosted prices after storms increased claims costs and low interest rates reduced income from bond investments. Photographer: Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg
Travelers Cos. Chief Executive Officer Jay Fishman boosted prices after storms increased claims costs and low interest rates reduced income from bond investments. Photographer: Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg

Jan. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Travelers Cos., the property-casualty insurer in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, said fourth-quarter profit more than tripled as claims costs from natural disasters fell a year after Superstorm Sandy.

Net income rose to $988 million, or $2.70 a share, from $304 million, or 78 cents, a year earlier, the New York-based company said today in a statement. Operating profit, which excludes some investment results, was $2.68 a share, beating the $2.16 average estimate of 25 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Chief Executive Officer Jay Fishman, 61, boosted prices after storms increased claims costs and low interest rates reduced income from bond investments. Calmer-than-average weather in 2013 helped buoy profit after Sandy, the storm that lashed the U.S. Northeast in October 2012 and caused about $35 billion in insured losses industrywide.

“That was clearly a big impact for a lot of insurance carriers,” Matt Carletti, an analyst at JMP Securities, said in a phone interview before results were announced. “This fourth quarter certainly is the other end of the spectrum.”

Travelers gained 2.3 percent to $88.50 at 7:13 a.m. in New York before the start of regular trading. The insurer’s book value per share, a measure of assets minus liabilities, rose to $70.15 at the end of December from $68.15 three months earlier.

Hurricane Season

A quiet Atlantic hurricane season in 2013 reduced catastrophe costs. Insurers shouldered $12.8 billion in claims from the costliest disasters in the U.S. last year, “far below” the $29.4 billion average from 2000 to 2012, Munich Re, the world’s largest reinsurer, said this month in a report.

Catastrophes cost Travelers $53 million before tax in the quarter, compared with $1.05 billion a year earlier, when the company faced claims from Sandy.

Travelers’ results are often seen as a bellwether for the commercial-insurance industry, because of the company’s size and early reporting date. Fishman has been among the most aggressive at pushing price increases and buying back stock to boost return on equity. He said last year that Travelers was a “no-excuses company” that would take action in the face of challenges to its profitability.

The calmer hurricane season allowed the insurer to increase repurchases in the third quarter. In October, Travelers’ board authorized an additional $5 billion in buybacks.

Full-year profit climbed to $3.67 billion from $2.47 billion in 2012. Travelers repurchased $1 billion of its own stock in the fourth quarter.

To contact the reporter on this story: Noah Buhayar in New York at nbuhayar@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Kraut at dkraut2@bloomberg.net

Please upgrade your Browser

Your browser is out-of-date. Please download one of these excellent browsers:

Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera or Internet Explorer.