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Euler Hermes 2014 nine-month results – maintaining momentum Print E-mail
Thursday, 30 October 2014

“Credit insurance will be of even greater importance to our clients given recent macroeconomic news,” declared Wilfried Verstraete, Chairman of the Euler Hermes Board of Management. “If this translates into another slowdown in Europe, in particular in Germany and France, it could lead to a resurgence in insolvencies. We are equipped for this scenario, as demonstrated by past results and shown again this quarter. Our growth engines outside Europe have delivered the expected momentum and operating income is solid.”

Shareholders’ equity increased by €32.8 million during the first nine months of 2014, driven by the positive operating cash flows partly offset by the dividend payment made in June.

B. Turnover

At the end of September, the Group grew its total turnover by 2.2% at constant exchange rates. While growth markets (including Americas, Asia and the Middle East) increased their business by 13.9% versus the previous year at constant exchange rates, mature markets overall posted limited growth (+0.3%).

Premiums grew by 2.3% at actual exchange rates and 2.7% at constant exchange rates. Good commercial traction in non-mature markets and a strong momentum in new products are compensating pressure on prices and flat insured turnover volumes in mature markets, especially in Germany and France.

Service revenues, the second component of turnover, remained under pressure as collection revenues follow the downward trend in frequency claims.

C. Operating income

Euler Hermes delivered a robust ordinary operating income at €337.0 million, up 7.8% year-on-year.

This improvement is driven by the net technical result (+€29.0 million), which is a result of a lower combined ratio (74.7% vs. 76.8% end of September 2013).

The net loss ratio stands at a healthy level of 48.2%, 4.4 pts below last year, driven by lower claims in all regions and all lines of business. The net loss ratio also benefits from a 15.5% positive net run-off from previous attachment years, which compares to 9.6% at the end of September 2013, which was impacted by one large claim in Spain.

The net expense ratio is up 2.3 points compared to the same period in 2013 (26.5% versus 24.2%), due to a lower contribution from reinsurance commissions and pressure on the collection margin.

Net investment income is €66.0 million vs. € 70.7 million at the end of September 2013, primarily due to lower reinvestment yields on the bond portfolio.

Non-ordinary operating expenses include a €17.2 million impairment at the end of September 2014 related to Germany headquarters in Hamburg, following the decision to dispose of the premises and move to a new building in 2018. Conversely, in 2013, the non-ordinary operating income included a €31.7 million gain linked to the contribution of entities to the Solunion joint venture. Hence the 5.8% year-on-year decrease in total operating income. Excluding these two one-off impacts in 2014 and in 2013, operating income is up 9.8%.

D. Investment portfolio

At the end of September 2014, the market value of the Group’s investment portfolio is up €201 million to €4,364 million versus €4,163 million at 2013 year-end, driven by positive operating cash flows.

E. Net income

Net income rose by 5.0% year-on-year, standing at €232.5 million. This increase is linked to the good performance of Solunion, captured in the income from entities consolidated at equity, combined with a lower average tax rate.

 F. Outlook

A swift recovery in Europe is now unlikely as the necessary building blocks still need to be secured.

Though we expect timid positive developments in 2015, both for emerging and advanced economies,  liquidity, demand and political risk will continue to subdue global growth (+2.9% in 2015, after +2.5% in 2014) and global trade (+4.5% in 2015, after +3.7% in 2014).

In this environment, growing the business outside traditional markets remains our priority. Vigilance in risk underwriting is the steady rudder by which we will continue to steer, in order to ensure the enduring profitability of our business.

(Source - Euler Hermes Press release)  

 

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