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CNA Financial (CNA) Q1 Earnings Beat, Revenues Lag Estimates

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CNA Financial Corporation (CNA - Free Report) reported first-quarter 2021 core earnings of 96 cents per share, which beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 1.1%. The bottom line more than doubled year over year.

The quarter benefited from double-digit rate increases and strong new business growth, partially offset by elevated catastrophes. The quarter delivered best underlying combined ratio in over 12 years.

CNA Financial Corporation Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise

Behind First-Quarter Headlines

Total operating revenues of CNA Financial were nearly $2.5 billion, up 12% year over year on the back of higher net investment income and premiums. The top line missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 13.1%.

Net written premiums at Property & Casualty Operations improved 4% year over year to about $1.9 billion, driven by strong rate and higher new business.

Net investment income increased 53.2% year over year to $504 million, driven by limited partnership and common stock investments.

Total claims, benefits and expenses increased 5% to $2.5 billion, primarily due to higher insurance claims and policyholders' benefits, amortization of deferred acquisition costs and non-insurance warranty expense.

Pretax net catastrophe losses were $125 million, wider than losses of $75 million in the year-ago quarter, stemming from winter storms, Uri and Viola.

Combined ratio deteriorated 80 basis points (bps) year over year to 98.1.

Core return on equity was 8.8%, up 510 bps.

Debt-to-capital deteriorated 80 bps to 18.7% at quarter end.

Book value as of Mar 31, 2021 was $44.50 per share, down about 5% from Dec 31, 2020.

Segment Results

Specialty’s net written premiums rose nearly 7% year over year to $742 million.  Combined ratio improved 250 bps to 88.8

Commercial’s net written premiums increased 1% year over year to $960 million. Combined ratio deteriorated 510 bps to 106.7

International’s net written premiums increased 1% year over year to $235 million, driven by growth in Europe and Canada. Combined ratio improved 400 bps to 95.9

Life & Group’s net earned premiums were $120 million, down 5.5% year over year. Core income of $36 million increased nine fold year over year,  driven by better than expected morbidity in the long-term care business and higher net investment income.

Corporate & Other’s core loss of $36 million was wider than loss of $17 million in the year-earlier quarter, attributable to recognition of a $12 million after-tax loss resulting from the cession of a legacy portfolio of excess workers' compensation policies under a retroactive reinsurance agreement.

Dividend Update

CNA Financial’s board of directors approved a quarterly dividend of 38 cents to be paid on Jun 3 to shareholders of May 17.

Zacks Rank

CNA Financial currently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).

You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Performance of Other Insurers

Of the insurance industry players that have reported first-quarter results so ar, The Travelers Companies (TRV - Free Report) , W.R. Berkley Corporation (WRB - Free Report) and RLI Corporation’s (RLI - Free Report) earnings beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate.

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