A slew of catastrophe events hounded the previous quarter, disrupting results of insurers, particularly the property and casualty insurers. Successive hurricanes like Harvey, Irma, Maria and two Mexican earthquakes have badly affected the underwriting results for the non-life insurers. While many incurred underwriting losses, others faced slump in underwriting profit.
However, capital reserve, built by insurers owing to a not-so-active catastrophe environment, is helping companies meet insurance claims.
In fact performance of the insurance industry impacted by hurricanes-related losses dragged the results of the Finance sector in the third quarter. The current year is estimated to be the costliest in terms of cat loss.
There is no end to insurers’ worries as the fourth quarter has already witnessed wildfires in California. This is expected to further dent the fourth-quarter underwriting results.
The industry has underperformed the S&P 500 index quarter to date. While the index has clocked a gain of 2.8%, th industry has grown 1%.
However, a series of catastrophes has probably induced insurers to raise pricing that remained flat for long owing to a benign catastrophe environment. Also, with unemployment rate declining, demand for insurance is shooting up. This in turn will drive premiums higher, which is the primary source of insurers’ revenues.
Also, interest rate environment has been improving gradually. The Federal Reserve has hiked rates three times since December 2016 after keeping the rates at near zero since the recession of 2008. There is a chance of one more hike this December with the Fed having earlier indicated about the same possible hikes in 2017 and three more in 2018. With a progressing rate environment, investment income is also set to increase. Investment income is an important component of the insurers’ top line
Strategic initiatives for a diversified portfolio besides mergers and consolidation to accelerate growth, expand globally and add capabilities leverage insurers’ position for a strong, healthy performance.
Key Stock Picks
Banking on prudent underwriting and core strength, the bottom ¬line of several insurers is able to beat estimates. We zeroed in on five property and casualty insurers that were not only outperformers in the third quarter but have potential to still maintain the momentum and deliver solidly in the fourth quarter as well.
Infinity Property and Casualty Corporation (IPCC - Free Report) provides personal automobile insurance products in the United States. The company delivered a 1050% earnings surprise in the recently reported quarter. The stock has seen the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2017 being revised 41.4% upward while the same for 2018 increased 6.3% over the last 30 days. The stock sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.
Shares of Infinity Property and Casualty have rallied 15.1% quarter to date, outperforming the industry as well the S&P 500 index.
Donegal Group Inc. (DGICA - Free Report) provides property and casualty insurance to businesses and individuals in the Mid-Atlantic, Midwestern, New England and the Southern states. The company pulled off a 78.57% earnings surprise in the last quarter. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2017 has moved up 32.7% while the same for 2018 has risen 8.7% in the last 30 days. The stock carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).
Shares of Donegal Group have gained 9.4% quarter to date, outperforming the industry as well as the S&P 500 index.
NMI Holdings Inc. (NMIH - Free Report) provides private mortgage guaranty insurance services in the United States. Last quarter, the company came up with a 42.86% earnings surprise. The stock has seen the Zacks Consensus Estimate for current-year earnings being revised 11.9% upward while the same for 2018 grew 9.7% over the last 30 days. The stock carries a Zacks Rank of 2.
Shares of NMI Holdings have surged 32.7% quarter to date, outperforming the industry as well as the S&P 500 index.
The Allstate Corporation (ALL - Free Report) provides property-liability insurance and life insurance coverages in the United States and Canada. The company delivered an 81.82% earnings surprise in the previous quarter. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2017 has climbed up 15.1% while the same for 2018 improved 3.5% in the last 30 days. The stock carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).
Shares of Allstate have increased 9.2% quarter to date, coming in above the industry as well as the S&P 500 index’s tally.
The Hanover Insurance Group, Inc. (THG - Free Report) provides various property and casualty insurance products and services in the United States and internationally. The company pulled off a 121.15% earnings surprise in the preceding quarter. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2017 has jumped 12.6% while the same for 2018 has inched up 2.1% in the last 30 days. The stock carries a Zacks Rank of 3.
Shares of The Hanover Insurance Group have gained 9.4% of its value quarter to date, ahead of the industry as well as the S&P 500 index.
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