string(13) "news_articles" State Auto Financial reports fourth quarter and year end 2018 results

State Auto Financial reports fourth quarter and year end 2018 results

2019-02-14

  • Quarterly net loss of $0.57 per diluted share including $1.25 per diluted share, or $54.1 million, of after-tax net unrealized loss on investments
  • Quarterly net income from operations2 of $0.67 per diluted share
  • Quarterly GAAP combined ratio of 94.6%
  • Return on equity of 1.5%
  • Book value per share of $19.79

COLUMBUS, OHIO - February 14, 2019 - State Auto Financial Corporation (NASDAQ:STFC) today reported a fourth quarter 2018 net loss of $24.5 million, or $0.57 per diluted share, which included $54.1 million, or $1.25 per diluted share, of after-tax net unrealized loss on investments, versus a net loss of $6.7 million1, or $0.161 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter of 2017. Net income from operations2 per diluted share for the fourth quarter 2018 was $0.67 versus net loss from operations2 per diluted share of $0.491 for the same 2017 period. The fourth quarter 2017 net loss and net loss from operations included a charge of $36.4 million, or $0.86 per diluted share, related to the enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA).

For the year ended 2018, STFC had net income of $12.8 million, or $0.29 per diluted share, which included $45.3 million, or $1.04 per diluted share, of after-tax net unrealized loss on investments, compared to a net loss of $10.7 million1, or $0.251 per diluted share, for the same 2017 period. Net income from operations2 per diluted share for the year ended Dec. 31, 2018 was $1.20 versus a net loss from operations2 per diluted share of $1.261 for the same 2017 period. The year ended 2017 net loss and net loss from operations included the same charge of $36.4 million, or $0.86 per diluted share, related to the enactment of the TCJA.

GAAP Operating Results

STFC’s GAAP combined ratio for the fourth quarter 2018 was 94.6 compared to 100.71 for the same 2017 period. Catastrophe losses during the fourth quarter 2018 accounted for 2.6 points of the 56.8 total loss ratio points, or $8.1 million, versus 2.6 points of the total 62.71 loss ratio points, or $8.3 million, for the same period in 2017. Non-catastrophe losses during the fourth quarter 2018 included 7.9 points of favorable development relating to prior years, or $24.4 million versus 4.1 points, or $12.9 million, for the same period in 2017.

Net written premium for the fourth quarter of 2018 decreased 1.1% compared to the same period in 2017.  By segment, net written premium for personal and commercial increased 13.9% and 3.9%, respectively, while the specialty segment reported negative written premium as a result of our exit from this business. The increase in the personal segment was primarily due to rate actions taken to improve the profitability in personal auto, new business growth, and a higher level of policies in force for the fourth quarter 2018 compared to the fourth quarter of 2017. The increase in the commercial segment was primarily driven by rate increases and a higher level of new business production from commercial auto and middle market commercial during the fourth quarter 2018 compared to the fourth quarter of 2017. Partially offsetting the increase was a decline in small commercial package new business during the fourth quarter 2018 compared to the fourth quarter 2017.

STFC’s GAAP combined ratio for the year ended 2018 was 100.6 compared to 107.71 for the same 2017 period. Catastrophe losses impacted the loss ratio for the year ended 2018 by 5.8 points, or $71.7 million, compared to 9.7 points, or $124.0 million for the year ended 2017. Non-catastrophe losses for the year ended 2018 included 6.2 points of favorable development relating to prior years, or $76.6 million, versus 3.2 points of favorable development, or $41.4 million, for the same period in 2017.

Net written premium for the year ended 2018 decreased 4.7% compared to the same 2017 period.  By insurance segment, net written premium for the personal and commercial segments increased 19.1% and 3.6%, respectively, and the specialty segment decreased 93.2%, as a result of our exit from this business. The increases in net written premium in the personal and commercial segments were due to the same factors discussed above for the fourth quarter.

SAP Personal and Commercial Operating Results

The SAP personal and commercial segments', our ongoing insurance segments, combined ratio3 for the fourth quarter 2018 was 92.8 compared to 97.1 for the same 2017 period. Catastrophe losses during the fourth quarter 2018 accounted for 2.3 points of the 54.8 total loss ratio points, or $6.9 million, versus 0.4 points of the total 59.2 points or $1.0 million for the same period in 2017. Non-catastrophe losses and ALAE during the fourth quarter 2018 included 7.8 points of favorable development relating to prior years, or $23.3 million, versus 5.5 points or $14.5 million, for the same period in 2017.

The SAP personal and commercial segments' combined ratio3 for the year ended 2018 was 98.6 compared to 102.3 for the same 2017 period. Catastrophe losses for the year ended 2018 accounted for 6.2 points of the total 63.0 loss ratio points, or $70.3 million, versus 6.8 points of the total 67.6 loss ratio points, or $70.1 million for the year ended 2017. Non-catastrophe losses and ALAE for the year ended 2018 included 7.0 points of favorable development relating to prior years, or $79.7 million, versus 4.4 points of favorable development, or $45.6 million, for the same period in 2017.

Book Value and Return on Equity

STFC’s book value was $19.79 per share as of Dec. 31, 2018, a decrease of $0.45 per share from STFC’s book value on Sept. 30, 2018. The decrease was driven by the market value of our investment portfolio. Return on stockholders’ equity for the twelve months ended Dec. 31, 2018, was 1.5% compared to (1.2)% for the twelve months ended Dec. 31, 2017.

STFC’s Chairman, President and CEO Mike LaRocco commented on the quarter and year as follows:

“The fourth quarter and year 2018 results continued our positive momentum and further validated the bold strategic and operational decisions we’ve made since 2015. We’re now an emerging digital company, focused on writing personal auto and home, small and middle market commercial, farm and ranch, and workers’ compensation. Those lines produced 12.5% net written premium growth and a combined ratio of 98.6% for 2018, only the second year of profitable growth in 11 years.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our associates and distribution partners for their hard work. Thanks to them, we’ve made remarkable progress in a short period of time. We’re justifiably proud, but we know we must get even better. There is still much room for improvement and we will remain diligent as we move forward. However, our 2018 results demonstrate that we now have a solid foundation upon which we can profitably grow and outperform the industry."

About State Auto Financial Corporation

State Auto Financial Corporation, headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, is a super regional property and casualty insurance holding company and is proud to be a Trusted Choice® company partner. STFC stock is traded on the NASDAQ Global Select Market, which represents the top fourth of all NASDAQ listed companies.

The insurance subsidiaries of State Auto Financial Corporation are part of the State Auto Group. The State Auto Group markets its insurance products throughout the United States, through independent insurance agencies, which include retail agencies and wholesale brokers. The State Auto Group is rated A- (Excellent) by the A.M. Best Company and includes State Automobile Mutual, State Auto Property & Casualty, State Auto Ohio, State Auto Wisconsin, Milbank, Meridian Security, Patrons Mutual, Rockhill Insurance, Plaza Insurance, American Compensation and Bloomington Compensation. Additional information on State Auto Financial Corporation and the State Auto Insurance Companies can be found online at http://www.StateAuto.com/STFC.

1As previously reported, the results for the fourth quarter and year ended Dec. 31, 2017, have been restated to correct an error discovered during the first quarter of 2018 relating to the calculation of deferred acquisition costs (DAC) along with making other adjustments not previously recorded relating to that same time period. Although the error was immaterial to STFC’s previously issued financial statements, the cumulative correction would have a material effect on the 2018 financial statements. Accordingly, the results for the fourth quarter and year ended Dec. 31, 2017, throughout this release have been adjusted to incorporate the revised amounts, where applicable. Please refer to our quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the period ending March 31, 2018 for further information.

2 Net earnings (loss) from operations, a non-GAAP financial measure which management believes is informative to Company management and investors, differs from GAAP net income (loss) only by the exclusion of net investment (loss) gain, net of applicable taxes, on investment activity for the periods being reported. For STFC, this amounted to a loss of $1.25 per diluted share and $0.91 per diluted share for the fourth quarter and year ended Dec. 31, 2018, respectively, versus income of $0.32 and per diluted share and $1.01 per diluted share for the fourth quarter and year ended Dec. 31, 2017, respectively.

3 Insurance industry regulators require STFC's insurance subsidiaries to report their financial condition and results of operations using Statutory Accounting Practices ("SAP"). The SAP personal and commercial segments combined ratio is a measure used by management to evaluate STFC’s operating performance for its ongoing operations. Details behind the compilation of these results can be found on page 19 of this release.

STFC has scheduled a conference call with interested investors for Thursday, Feb. 14, at 11 a.m. ET to discuss the Company’s fourth quarter 2018 performance. Live and archived broadcasts of the call can be accessed at http://www.StateAuto.com/STFC. A replay of the call can be heard beginning at 2 p.m., Feb. 14, by calling 855-859-2056, conference ID 8998499. Supplemental schedules detailing the Company’s fourth quarter 2018 financial, sales and underwriting results are made available on http://www.StateAuto.com/STFC prior to the conference call.

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Except for historical information, all other information in this news release consists of forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected, anticipated or implied. The most significant of these uncertainties are described in State Auto Financial's Form 10-K and Form 10-Q reports and exhibits to those reports, and include (but are not limited to) legislative changes at both the state and federal level, state and federal regulatory rule making promulgations and adjudications, class action litigation involving the insurance industry and judicial decisions affecting claims, policy coverages and the general costs of doing business, the impact of competition on products and pricing, inflation in the costs of the products and services insurance pays for, product development, geographic spread of risk, weather and weather-related events, and other types of catastrophic events. State Auto Financial undertakes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements.

CONTACTS

Media contact: Kyle Anderson, Kyle.Anderson@StateAuto.com, 614-917-5497
Investor contact: Natalie Schoolcraft, Natalie.Schoolcraft@StateAuto.com, 614-917-4341

2018 Year-end earnings release