W.R. Berkley Corporation (NYSE:WRB) Q4 2019 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript
Jan 28, 2020 • 05:00 pm ET
Good day and welcome to W. R. Berkley Corporation's Fourth Quarter 2019 Earnings Conference Call. Today's conference call is being recorded. The speakers' remarks may contain forward-looking statements. Some of the forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of forward-looking words including without limitation, believes, expects or estimates. We caution you that such forward-looking statements should not be regarded as a representation by us that the future plans, estimates or expectations contemplated by us will be in fact be achieved. Please refer to our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31st, 2018 and our other filings made with the SEC for a description of the business environment in which we operate and the important factors that may materially affect our results.
W. R. Berkley Corporation is not under any obligation and expressly disclaims any such obligation to update or alter its forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. I would now like to turn the call over to Mr Bob Berkley, please go ahead.
W. Robert Berkley, Jr.
Carmen, thank you very much and good afternoon all and thank you for dialing in today to chat with us about our fourth quarter results. On this end of the phone, in addition to myself, again you have Bill Berkley, Executive Chairman; and Rich Baio, our Chief Financial Officer. We're going to follow a similar agenda to what we've done in the past. Rich is going to lead off with some comments on the quarter and then he is going to hand it off to me, I'll offer a couple of relatively brief comments and then you'll have the three of us at your disposal for any Q&A. Rich, if you would please.
Richard M. Baio
Great, thanks Rob. We reported net income of $119 million or $0.62 per share. We continue to see an acceleration in the growth of our top line, both from a gross and net premiums written basis. Our underwriting results improved on a current accident year basis excluding cat losses while we experienced some variability on the investment side that we've alluded to during earlier earnings calls. Focusing first on the underwriting results, gross premiums written grew 10.1% and net premiums written grew 9.3% in the current quarter, bringing the full year growth to 7.3% and 6.7% respectively. Total premiums for the Group were $1.66 billion in the current quarter comprised of approximately $1.5 billion in the Insurance segment, representing an increase of 8.2% over the prior year quarter and $176 million in the Reinsurance & Monoline Excess segment or an 18.9% increase quarter-over-quarter.
The Insurance segment's net premiums written grew in all lines of business with the exception of workers' compensation. The growth in the quarter was led by professional liability of 12.9% followed by 11.8% in other liability, 11% in commercial automobile, and 10.2% in short-tail lines. The Reinsurance & Monoline Excess segment grew in property reinsurance by 22.5%, casualty reinsurance of 19.9%, and monoline excess of 8.3%. Pre-tax underwriting profits increased