ACE Follows Inorganic Route for Global Expansion & Growth - Analyst Blog


On Aug 25, 2014, we issued an updated research report on ACE Limited ( ACE ).

The company delivered operating earnings of $2.42 per share, surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 7.1% and improving 5.7% year over year. Solid underwriting performances coupled with improved investment results led to the outperformance. Premium revenue witnessed global improvement.

With respect to earnings trend, the Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) property and casuty insurer delivered earnings surprise in the last four quarters with an average beat of 11.5%.

ACE Limited remains focused to ramp up its inorganic growth profile with continued buyouts. The company recently announced that it will expand in Brazil with the buyout of Itau Seguros SA. The increasing exposure in Brazil is expected give a boost to combined large commercial P&C business and help small commercial A&H personal lines and life business. Acquisitions have also improved premium writings of the company.

ACE Limited has also been strengthening its balance sheet with improving cash balance and financial leverage.

ACE Limited remains focused on enhancing its shareholders' value. In the last quarter, the company returned $460 million to its shareholders. The company also expects to repurchase about $1.5 billion of shares in 2014, of which it has already bought back $700 million in the first seven months. In addition, its dividend yield is better than the industry average.

Nonetheless, increased expenses have been taking a toll on margin expansion. If expenses continue to increase at a higher pace than revenue growth, operating margin expansion will be affected further.

Being a property and casualty insurer, ACE Limited is exposed to cat occurrences. If the company incurs a huge cat loss, its underwriting results and combined ratio will be hugely affected.

With respect to estimate revisions, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2014 and 2015 increased as most of the estimates were raised over the last 60 days. It is currently pegged at $9.13 (up 1.8% as 10 of 12 estimates moved north) for 2014 and at $9.33 (up 0.9% as 7 of 12 estimates were raised) for 2015. The expected long-term earnings growth rate of the stock is 10%.

Other Stocks to Consider

Some better-ranked property and casualty insurers include Global Indemnity plc ( GBLI ), Mercury General Corp. ( MCY ) and Endurance Specialty Holdings Ltd. ( ENH ). All these stocks carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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ACE LIMITED (ACE): Free Stock Analysis Report

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ, Inc.

This article appears in: Investing , Business , Stocks

Referenced Stocks: ACE , ENH , MCY , GBLI

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