Argo Group International Holdings, Ltd. (NYSE:ARGO) Q3 2019 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript

Nov 08, 2019 • 11:00 am ET


Argo Group International Holdings, Ltd. (NYSE:ARGO) Q3 2019 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript


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Kevin J. Rehnberg

primary focus will be return on equity. We recognize there are opportunities for efficiency similar to what we had delivered in the U.S. the past few years. When we return to share our fourth quarter and year end 2019 results, I will have more to say about our forward strategy as well as financial metrics for 2020. For today, Jay and I are focused on giving you a fulsome review of the recent quarter.

Looking at our third quarter results, we continue to see strong performance for our U.S. operations in contrast to clearly unacceptable results from our international operations. The U.S. posted its highest ever gross written premium figure for the quarter, continuing to build on the momentum of the first half of 2019, exceeding the record set in 2018. These results reflect nearly 10 years of intense focus by the U.S. team to refine underwriting, claims and operations. Given the consistently strong impact of these actions, we have started to implement similar best practices countrywide -- companywide.

As we reported in our press release statement last week, in Q3, we registered catastrophe losses of $19 million, prior year accident losses of $42 million and additional current year accident losses of approximately $10 million. As you know, we faced a similar situation around losses in the second quarter. As we explained then, these adjustments come from areas of business that we have exited previously or where we have already taken aggressive underwriting actions to improve profitability.

Some also come as a result of more frequent large loss events, which has caused us to adjust our current accident year expectations in certain business units. Clearly, we are not satisfied with our company wide loss ratio results this quarter. However, we remain focused on improving underwriting profitability as we look forward to 2020 and have several actions underway that leave us optimistic about our future opportunities.

We continue to be encouraged by the ongoing strengthening of rates, not only in our largest markets, the U.S., London and Bermuda, but also in most markets around the world. Rate increases accelerated during Q3. And while some lines are experiencing stronger pricing than others, overall, we achieved mid single digit rate increases for the quarter. In the U.S. this is being led by property , professional, and certain liability lines. In international, property, liability, marine and energy are experiencing the strongest rate increases. We expect that these positive market dynamics will continue into 2020.

In the U.S., our third quarter gross written premium of $530 million was up almost 10% year over year, the highest gross written premium for Q3 in our U.S. operations history. And year-to-date, the same is true. $1.4 billion in gross written premium is our best year-to-date ever, more than 10% above our year-to-date at Q3 last year.

The strongest drivers of this growth in the quarter year-over-year were Argo Pro, our professional lines business, Trident, our public entity business, and our transportation and inland marine units. Inland Marine, while