The Navigators Group, Inc.NAVG reported fourth-quarter 2017 net operating earnings per share of 81 cents, which surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 50 cents by 62%. Moreover, the bottom line surged about 39.7% year over year.
The Navigators Group, Inc. Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise
The company witnessed another quarter of profitable underwriting results and strong premium growth, driven by a solid performance by the U.S. Insurance and Global Reinsurance segments. The International Insurance segment also displayed a considerable improvement in its results.
Navigators Group's operating revenues rose 6.2% year over year to about $324.9 million in the reported quarter. However, the top line missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 3.6%. Net earned premiums increased 7.4% to $305.1 million buoyed by growth in the U.S. Insurance, International Insurance and at Global Re. The net investment income climbed about 14.3% to $22.9 million.
Total expense increased 7.2% to $298.6 million, primarily due to high net losses and loss adjustment expenses, other operating and interest expenses as well as interest expenses.
Underwriting profit improved 11.9% to $10.4 million. Surge in underwriting profit at the U.S. Insurance segment fueled this upside. Combined ratio improved 10 basis points (bps) to 96.6% from the year-ago quarter.
For 2017, Navigators Group reported net operating earnings per share of $1.16, surpassing the consensus mark by 36.5% but deteriorating 51% year over year.
Operating revenues increased 6.9% year over year to $1.3 billion.
U.S. Insurance : Net earned premiums grew about 4.5% year over year to $174.4 million. The segment reported underwriting profit of $15.1 million, which soared 73.4% from the prior-year quarter. Combined ratio improved 350 bps to 91.3% in the quarter under review.
International Insurance : Net earned premiums improved 15.9% year over year to $83.2 million. The segment's underwriting loss of $9.1 million was somewhat wider than the year-earlier loss of $8.5 million. However, combined ratio improved 100 bps to 110.9% in the fourth quarter.
Global Re : The segment's net earned premiums rose 4.8% year over year to $47.5 million. Underwriting profit plunged 52.4% year over year to about $4.3 million in the quarter under discussion. However, combined ratio improved 1100 bps to 90.9% in the period.
Navigators Group exited the fourth quarter with book value per share of $41.55, up 2.7% from $40.45 as of Dec 31, 2016.
As of Dec 31, 2017, Navigators Group's total investment and cash amounted to $3.5 billion, up 9.2% from $3.2 billion at year-end 2016. Total shareholders' equity was $1.23 billion as of Dec 31, 2017, up 4.1% from $1.18 billion at the end of 2016.
In the fourth quarter, the company approved and paid a dividend of 6 cents per share.
On Feb 15, 2018, the board of directors announced a quarterly cash dividend of 7 cents per share, payable on Mar 23 to shareholders of record as of Mar 2, 2018. This approval represented a 16.7% hike from the previous quarter's dividend.
Navigators Group sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank stocks here .
Performance of Other P&C Insurers
Among other players from the same space having reported fourth-quarter earnings so far, the bottom line of The Progressive Corporation PGR , The Travelers Companies, Inc. TRV and RLI Corp. RLI exceeded the respective Zacks Consensus Estimate.
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