AIG Can't Pace Rivals as Earnings Miss Estimates on Storms

Updated on
  • Hurricane-heavy quarter brings quarterly loss of $1.91 a share
  • Insurers including Travelers, Allstate beat expectations

Even with one of the costliest hurricane seasons on record, large insurers in the U.S. tended to post third-quarter results that topped Wall Street’s estimates. The exception is American International Group Inc.

AIG announced Thursday that its loss for the period was $1.91 a share, deeper than the 79-cent average estimate of 7 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Travelers Cos., Progressive Corp. and Allstate Corp., which are more heavily weighted in home and auto insurance, outshined projections. AIG’s stock slipped after the results were announced.

A rocky quarter could add to challenges at AIG, which over the past decade has been navigating higher-than-expected claims, underwriting mishaps and a revolving door of CEOs. The New York-based firm has a big presence insuring businesses and high-net-worth individuals with coverage in Florida and Texas, which were hard hit by the storms.

“The insurance industry witnessed unprecedented catastrophic events,” Chief Executive Officer Brian Duperreault said in a statement Thursday. “AIG’s resilience in the wake of these events reflects the strength of our balance sheet.”

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria caused widespread destruction throughout the Southeastern U.S. in the quarter. Total claims for the industry may be as high as $120 billion, according to catastrophe-modeling firm RMS. During the current period, wildfires that struck Northern California may have caused more than $3 billion in industry losses, the state’s insurance commissioner said on Oct. 31.

The storms hammered AIG’s commercial business, which posted a loss of 95 cents for every premium dollar, compared with a loss of almost 6 cents a year earlier. The insurer also had to adjust reserves for policies written in prior years by more than $830 million.

Results slipped at the consumer unit, too. Personal insurance lost almost 6 cents per dollar, compared with a nearly 3-cent gain. The life-insurance and group-retirement businesses posted advances.

For more: Think insurers can price their way back from storms? Think again

AIG stock declined $1.92 to $63.06 at 4:56 p.m. in extended New York trading. It is little changed this year, compared with the 15 percent surge in the S&P 500 Insurance Index.

The insurer’s catastrophe costs for the period, previously announced, were $3 billion, resulting in a net loss of $1.7 billion. That’s down from a profit of $462 million, or a 42 cents, a year earlier.

Storm costs may push Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. to post its first underwriting loss since 2002. Berkshire is scheduled to announce earnings on Friday. Zurich-based Chubb Ltd. said it had $1.9 billion in catastrophe-related losses during the period, which included earthquakes in Mexico.

AIG’s book value, a measure of assets minus liabilities, slipped to $80.62 at the end of September from $81.62 three months earlier.

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