Guy Carpenter has collaborated with Mercer to survey insurance equity analysts to understand the possible objectives and aspirations of insurance company shareholders. Incorporating or at least considering the views of various stakeholders will be critical for insurers in ensuring that they are moving along the right path, especially in this uncertain environment.
Posts Tagged ‘valuation’
The reality is that many external forces continually disrupt the impact on merger & acquisition (M&A) activity of the insurance pricing cycle. This is especially true in recent years as insurance markets are influenced by wider financial conditions, new investors, globalization and the benefits of healthy profits despite a prolonged period of rate softening. These disruptive forces provide both positive and negative contributions to the M&A-conducive market conditions resulting from the current stage in the insurance cycle.
Des Potter, Head of GC Securities (EMEA)
Faced with an abundance of excess capital, negligible growth in global reinsurance spend and the pricing outlook continuing to soften, one of the biggest challenges for reinsurers is deciding how to deploy excess capital to generate a return that meets or exceeds the expectations of shareholders.
Guy Carpenter hosted “Volatility - Opportunity or Threat?” the Reinsurance Symposium held in Baden-Baden on October 21. The event examined how volatility is viewed within the insurance and reinsurance sectors, particularly from a financial perspective, and explored the potential which market turbulence can generate.
The three key risks outlined in Guy Carpenter’s report: Overcoming Key Risks on the Road to Profitable Growth, Mid-Year Market Overview help explain the persistent low valuations experienced by many companies in the sector. It is apparent that nearly all P&C carriers are affected directly by at least one of these risks. In Guy Carpenter’s role as trusted strategic advisor, there are many opportunities to assist clients in addressing these issues.
David Flandro, Global Head of Business Intelligence, Julian Alovisi, Assistant Vice President and Lucy Dalimonte, Senior Vice President
Another driver of low valuations has been sector book value or capital growth (the denominator in the price-to-book ratio). Figure 1 shows the increase in reported capital since the middle of 2011 for the Guy Carpenter Reinsurance Composite. This growth has been particularly impressive as the sector experienced an exceptional series of costly catastrophe losses during this time. Yet, as the primary sources of capital growth are net income and unrealized gains, it is important to ask: how tangible and sustainable are these sources of growth?
With the sector exposed to a debt crisis, emerging catastrophe risks and a deteriorating reserving cycle, it should come as no surprise that valuations stand at or near 20-year lows. As shown in Figure 1, reinsurers’ average price-to-book ratios remained near 0.90 during the first half of 2012 - approximately one and half standard deviations below the 20-year mean.
The challenging macroeconomic environment of subdued growth and low interest rates meant the reinsurance sector ended 2011 trading near 20-year lows. As the chart below illustrates, the average price to book ratio for the sector of 0.893 is just greater than one and a half standard deviations down from the 20-year average of 1.32.
The challenging macroeconomic environment of subdued growth and low interest rates meant the reinsurance sector ended 2011 trading near 20-year lows. As Figure 1 illustrates, the average price to book ratio for the sector of 0.893 is just greater than one and a half standard deviations down from the 20-year average of 1.32. The sovereign debt crisis, threat of a double-dip recession, heavy non-peak zone catastrophe losses during 2011 and concerns about reserve adequacy are among the factors contributing to volatility and low valuations. Additionally, despite the heavy losses incurred during 2011, many reinsurers are still perceived to have excess capital relative to projected earnings and top-line growth.