W.R. Berkley Corporation (NYSE:WRB) Q3 2020 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript

Oct 20, 2020 • 05:00 pm ET


W.R. Berkley Corporation (NYSE:WRB) Q3 2020 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript


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Good day, and welcome to W. R. Berkley Corporation's Third Quarter 2020 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 in fact be achieved. Please refer to our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2019 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'd now like to turn the call over to Mr. Rob Berkley. Please go ahead, sir.

W. Robert Berkley, Jr.

David, thank you very much. And thank you all for dialing into our third quarter call. Similar to the past, we also have Bill Berkley, Executive Chairman on the call on our end, as well as Rich Baio, CFO and Executive Vice President. We're going to follow a similar agenda to what we've done in the past. We're going to ask Rich to start off with some of his thoughts and highlights on -- from the quarter, and then I will follow with a few comments and we will be opening it up for Q&A.

Rich, if you could, please.

Richard M. Baio

Thanks, Rob. Good evening, everyone. The Company reported a strong quarter despite the ongoing complexities arising from the global pandemic and the heightened natural catastrophes facing the industry. Our underwriting results improved both on a calendar year basis and even more so on a current accident year basis excluding catastrophes.

Net income for the quarter was $152 million or $0.81 per share, resulting in an annualized return on equity of 10%. Drilling down into the key drivers for the quarter, I'll start with our top line. Gross premiums written grew by 8.1% in the quarter despite limited economic growth. Net premiums written grew 7.4% to approximately $1.9 billion in the quarter. The Insurance segment increased 6.5% to more than $1.6 billion, primarily driven by most lines of business, with the exception of workers' compensation.

The growth in the quarter was led by professional liability of 20.7% followed by 17% in commercial automobile, 9.6% in other liability, and 8% in short tail lines. The Reinsurance & Monoline Excess segment grew by 13.7% to $251 million in the quarter due to an improving market, as evidenced by an increase in property reinsurance of 26.6%, monoline excess of 18.9% and casualty reinsurance of 7.9%. Pre-tax underwriting income of $111 million improved 3.7% despite increased natural catastrophe losses in the quarter. There are on-above average number of windstorms, wind hurricanes