Lancashire’s shares have risen as much as 8 percent this morning before giving up some ground to trade nearly 5 percent higher at around 627p per share after the firm posted a sterling set of first quarter results before markets opened.
The increase came after the company revealed that its pre-tax profits rocketed 48 percent in the first quarter to $42.4mn as the London-market carrier benefitted from a quiet catastrophe period despite posting a 106 percent combined ratio at its Lloyd’s arm.
Overall the Andrew Maloney-led firm managed a combined ratio of 65.2 percent for the period, down from 85.6 percent in 2017, with a 25.7 point drop in the net loss ratio, which fell to 12 percent.
The carrier also reported growth in its gross written premiums (GWP), which climbed from $196.5mn to $215.8mn year-on-year.
The majority of the growth stemmed from the firm’s Lloyd’s business Cathedral, which increased its top line by 18.1 percent to $86.6mn primarily due to “modest” increases in the property book and higher exposures on prior underwriting year risk-attaching business.
Notably the marine book contracted some 26.6 percent in Q1 to $14.9mn, which was attributed to renewal timing on non-annual written contracts, while energy business also grew 17.8 percent to $30.4mn on the back of higher exposures on prior business.
The figures translated into operating earnings per share of $0.20, up from $0.13 last year.
The result was helped by $25.2mn of favourable prior year development, compared to a bump of $10.6mn in the same period for 2017.
Maloney said the firm had noted an “improved rating environment” following the catastrophe losses of last year, heralding what he dubbed a “slightly more interesting trading environment” than the market has seen for some years.
However, he added: “Whilst that is pleasing, the demand supply dynamic has not shifted sufficiently to bring about fundamental rate change across the board.
“In this environment the group has continued to focus on the underwriting discipline of matching risk and return. The group has written new business where the risk reward dynamics make sense; there were opportunities to do this during the first quarter with both existing and new clients.
“The rate improvements are very much in line with our communicated expectations following the experience of 1 January renewals. Although moving in the right direction, the rates have not yet improved enough to warrant a material increase in the group’s level of overall risk which currently remains broadly similar to that of 2017.”