AP NEWS

W. R. Berkley Corporation Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year Results

January 29, 2019

GREENWICH, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan 29, 2019--W. R. Berkley Corporation (NYSE:WRB) today reported net income for the fourth quarter of 2018 of $132 million, or $1.03 per share.

Full year highlights included:

Return on equity of 11.8%, despite heightened industry catastrophe losses. Total capital returned to shareholders was $280 million, including $255 million of ordinary and special dividends and $25 million of share repurchases. Before dividends and share repurchases, book value per share grew 4.9% in spite of rising interest rates.

Fourth quarter highlights included:

The accident year combined ratio excluding catastrophes was 93.9% and the calendar year combined ratio was 95.9%. Investment income increased 7.1%. Total capital returned to shareholders was $97 million, including $79 million of ordinary and special dividends and $18 million of share repurchases. Before dividends and share repurchases, book value per share grew 1.7%. Net realized pre-tax gains and net unrealized pre-tax gains on equity securities of $13 million, net of performance-based compensatory costs (1).

The Company commented:

Our results for the fourth quarter of 2018 once again demonstrated our strategy for managing volatility. We delivered strong underwriting and investment results during a period of elevated worldwide catastrophes and turbulent securities markets.

The Company continues to grow where it can achieve its targeted return, while de-emphasizing less attractive opportunities. Rate improvement for most lines of business is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, and we expect further gradual progress in reducing our expense ratio during 2019.

We are also seeing higher yields in our fixed-maturity investment portfolio. Our strategic decision to maintain its short duration provides a meaningful opportunity to reinvest at higher yields when interest rates rise, and the flexibility to redeploy funds at the appropriate time.

Managing risk and volatility in all aspects of our business has been a critical component of our strategy for more than 50 years. We remain focused on long-term value creation for our shareholders, only accepting volatility where we believe we can achieve an appropriate risk-adjusted return. Accordingly, we are confident that we will continue to deliver strong returns in 2019 and beyond.

Webcast Conference Call

The Company will hold its quarterly conference call with analysts and investors to discuss its earnings and other information on January 29, 2019, at 5:00 p.m. eastern time. The conference call will be webcast live on the Company’s website at http://www.wrberkley.com/investor-relations/events-and-presentations.aspx. Please log on at least ten minutes early to register and download and install any necessary software. A replay of the webcast will be available on the Company’s website approximately two hours after the end of the conference call.

About W. R. Berkley Corporation

Founded in 1967, W. R. Berkley Corporation is an insurance holding company that is among the largest commercial lines writers in the United States and operates worldwide in two segments of the property casualty business: Insurance and Reinsurance.

Forward Looking Information

This is a “Safe Harbor” Statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Any forward-looking statements contained herein, including statements related to our outlook for the industry and for our performance for the year 2019 and beyond, are based upon the Company’s historical performance and on current plans, estimates and expectations. The inclusion of this forward-looking information should not be regarded as a representation by us or any other person that the future plans, estimates or expectations contemplated by us will be achieved. They are subject to various risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to: the cyclical nature of the property casualty industry; the impact of significant competition, including new alternative entrants to the industry; the long-tail and potentially volatile nature of the insurance and reinsurance business; product demand and pricing; claims development and the process of estimating reserves; investment risks, including those of our portfolio of fixed maturity securities and investments in equity securities, including investments in financial institutions, municipal bonds, mortgage-backed securities, loans receivable, investment funds, including real estate, merger arbitrage, energy related and private equity investments; the effects of emerging claim and coverage issues; the uncertain nature of damage theories and loss amounts; natural and man-made catastrophic losses, including as a result of terrorist activities; general economic and market activities, including inflation, interest rates, and volatility in the credit and capital markets; the impact of the conditions in the financial markets and the global economy, and the potential effect of legislative, regulatory, accounting or other initiatives taken in response, on our results and financial condition; foreign currency and political risks (including those associated with the United Kingdom’s expected withdrawal from the European Union, or “Brexit”) relating to our international operations; our ability to attract and retain key personnel and qualified employees; continued availability of capital and financing; the success of our new ventures or acquisitions and the availability of other opportunities; the availability of reinsurance; our retention under the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2015; the ability of our reinsurers to pay reinsurance recoverables owed to us; other legislative and regulatory developments, including those related to business practices in the insurance industry; credit risk related to our policyholders, independent agents and brokers; changes in the ratings assigned to us or our insurance company subsidiaries by rating agencies; the availability of dividends from our insurance company subsidiaries; potential difficulties with technology and/or data security; the effectiveness of our controls to ensure compliance with guidelines, policies and legal and regulatory standards; and other risks detailed from time to time in the Company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. These risks and uncertainties could cause our actual results for the year 2019 and beyond to differ materially from those expressed in any forward-looking statement we make. Any projections of growth in our revenues would not necessarily result in commensurate levels of earnings. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date on which they are made, and the Company undertakes no obligation to update publicly or revise any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future developments or otherwise.

View source version on businesswire.com:https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20190129005897/en/

CONTACT: Karen A. Horvath

Vice President - External Financial Communications

(203) 629-3000

KEYWORD: UNITED STATES NORTH AMERICA CONNECTICUT

INDUSTRY KEYWORD: PROFESSIONAL SERVICES BANKING FINANCE INSURANCE COMMUNICATIONS PUBLIC RELATIONS/INVESTOR RELATIONS

SOURCE: W. R. Berkley Corporation

Copyright Business Wire 2019.

PUB: 01/29/2019 04:07 PM/DISC: 01/29/2019 04:07 PM

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20190129005897/en

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