Zurich reported net income for the nine months rose 25 percent compared with last year based on business growth along all of its operating segments.
The Zurich, Switzerland-based insurer reported net income rose $831 million from $3.33 billion last year to $4.16 billion. Earnings per share rose CHF (Swiss Franc) 6.22 to CHF 34.80 a share, which translates into an increase of $5.54 to $30.97 at the current exchange rate.
The company did not report quarterly results.
Zurich said gross written premiums and policy fees rose 4 percent, or more than $1 billion, to $27.32 billion from $26.30 billion last year.
On the United States side of the business, revenue from Farmers Management Services, whose executives said they do not own but manage because it is a reciprocal based in Los Angeles, rose 6 percent, or $90 million, to $1.68 billion. Combined ratio increased 2.5 points to 98.5.
The company’s life business increased 4 percent, or $594 million, to $15.37 billion.
However, the company reported combined ratio rose 2.4 points to 97.9 in part because of $579 million from flood losses in Great Britain during the summer, less than its initial estimate of $660 million. The combined winter storm Kyrill in Europe and the flooding amounted to $761 million in losses, said Dieter Wemer, the company’s chief financial officer, during a conference call today. The big losses in Europe were offset by low levels of U.S. catastrophe loss.
However, he said Farmers expects to see a loss of $265 million from the California wildfires. The loss, he said, will not have a material effect on Farmers or Zurich in the fourth quarter.
He said the integration of Bristol West, a private passenger auto insurer based in Davie, Fla., is proceeding and plans call for the expansion of the business to more than 22,000 independent agents by March 2008 and more than 25,000 by the end of 2008.
During the call, John J. Schrio, Zurich’s chief executive officer, said: “We grew where we said we would, with Farmers, global life, EGI and our international businesses leading the way, while maintaining, in these markets, underwriting discipline across all of our markets. We drove organic growth through enhanced customer propositions, new products, and expanded distribution capabilities” while expanding through global acquisitions.
The company said it aims to increase its three-year goal for operational cost cuts from $2 billion to $3.1 billion by 2010, and increase its 2008 target from $700 million to $800 million.
When asked during the conference call where he expected the cuts to come from, Mr. Schrio pointed to some company initiatives such as restructuring in the business in Germany resulting in $125 million a year in savings.
Farmers’ improvements in servicing to customers and agents, he said, is expected to result in $40 million in savings, which might be leveraged elsewhere; and a shared services platform by the Zurich America would result in $90 million over three years.