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HCC Insurance Holdings Reports Record First Quarter Net Earnings and Earnings Per Share

Highlights:

  • Net earnings of $112.9 million, or $1.17 per diluted share
  • GAAP combined ratio of 86.5%
  • Gross written premium increased 11% to $826.1 million
  • Net written premium increased 13% to $668.9 million
  • Annualized return on equity of 11.5% and operating return on equity(a) of 9.9%
  • Book value per share increased to $41.03

HOUSTON, April 28, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- HCC Insurance Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:HCC) today released results for its first quarter ended March 31, 2015.

Net earnings were $112.9 million, or $1.17 per diluted share, in the first quarter of 2015, compared to $107.9 million, or $1.07 per diluted share, in the same quarter of 2014.

The Company's consolidated results for the first quarter of 2015 include the results of Producers Ag Insurance Group, Inc. (ProAg), which HCC acquired effective January 1, 2015 for $104.5 million. ProAg contributed $72.6 million, $54.7 million and $17.0 million of gross written, net written and net earned premium, respectively, to consolidated premium. Including transaction costs, ProAg's operations generated a loss of $7.7 million, or $0.08 per share. The majority of this loss relates to the seasonal nature of the crop insurance business. The loss increased the Company's first quarter 2015 consolidated loss ratio, expense ratio and combined ratio by 0.8, 1.1 and 1.9 percentage points, respectively.

The Company's combined ratio was 86.5% for the first quarter of 2015 (84.6% excluding ProAg), compared to 83.4% for the same quarter of 2014. The net paid loss ratio was 64.7% for both quarters. HCC had no reserve development in either the first quarter of 2015 or 2014.

First quarter 2015 net earnings benefited from the Company's assertion to permanently reinvest accumulated undistributed earnings of the Company's controlled foreign corporations for 2014 and prior years. With this assertion, deferred taxes on these earnings, which had previously been booked at the U.S. tax rate of 35%, were adjusted to the U.K. tax rate of 20%. This assertion resulted in reduced tax expense of $5.9 million in the first quarter of 2015.

"For the third consecutive year, we are pleased to report record first quarter results. Despite a challenging market, we continue to grow our businesses selectively and profitably, with net written premium up 13% overall and 4% excluding ProAg. We are pleased with ProAg's results, which are slightly ahead of our expectations," said Christopher J.B. Williams, HCC's Chief Executive Officer.

Gross written premium increased 11% to $826.1 million (or 1% to $753.5 million excluding ProAg) in the first quarter of 2015, compared to $746.7 million in the same quarter of 2014. Net written premium increased 13% to $668.9 million (or 4% to $614.2 million excluding ProAg) versus $590.2 million in the respective quarters. Net earned premium increased 7% to $600.6 million (or 4% to $583.6 million excluding ProAg) in the first quarter of 2015, compared to $562.6 million in the same quarter of 2014.

Investment income was $53.5 million in the first quarter of 2015, compared to $56.8 million in the same quarter of 2014. As of March 31, 2015, HCC's fixed maturity securities portfolio had an average rating of AA, a duration of 4.7 years and an average long-term tax equivalent yield of 4.1%.

HCC generated cash flow from operations of $31.1 million in the first quarter of 2015, compared to $95.5 million in the same quarter of 2014. At March 31, 2015, the Company had $418.6 million of cash and short-term investments and $230.1 million of available capacity under its $825.0 million revolving loan facility.

The Company purchased 1.0 million shares of its common stock during the first quarter of 2015 for $54.4 million at an average cost of $55.77 per share.

As of March 31, 2015, total assets were $11.0 billion, shareholders' equity was $3.9 billion and the Company's debt to total capital ratio was 18.4%.

For further information about HCC's 2015 first quarter earnings results, see the supplemental financial schedules that are available in the Investor Relations section of the Company's website at http://ir.hcc.com.

HCC will hold an open conference call beginning at 8:00 a.m. Central Daylight Time on Wednesday, April 29. To participate, the number for domestic calls is (800) 374-0290 and the number for international calls is (706) 634-0161. There will also be a live webcast available on a listen-only basis that can be accessed through the Investor Relations section of the Company's website at http://ir.hcc.com. The webcast replay will be archived in the Investor Relations section of the HCC website through Friday, July 31, 2015.

Headquartered in Houston, Texas, HCC Insurance Holdings, Inc. is a leading specialty insurer with offices in the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain and Ireland. HCC's major domestic and international insurance companies have financial strength ratings of "AA (Very Strong)" from Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC, "A+ (Superior)" from A.M. Best Company, Inc., "AA (Very Strong)" from Fitch Ratings, and "A1 (Good Security)" from Moody's Investors Service, Inc.

For more information about HCC, please visit http://www.hcc.com.

a) Non-GAAP Financial Measure

Annualized operating return on equity is a non-GAAP financial measure under Regulation G and is calculated as net earnings excluding after-tax net realized investment gain/loss, other-than-temporary impairment credit losses, and foreign currency benefit/expense (collectively, operating earnings) divided by average shareholders' equity excluding accumulated other comprehensive income. See the supplemental financial schedules for a reconciliation of this non-GAAP financial measure to corresponding GAAP amounts. Management believes annualized operating return on equity is a useful measure for understanding the Company's profitability relative to shareholders' equity before consideration of investment-related gains/losses and foreign currency benefit/expense, both of which management excludes when evaluating operating results internally.

Forward-looking statements contained in this press release are made under "safe harbor" provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and involve a number of risks and uncertainties. The types of risks and uncertainties which may affect the Company are set forth in its periodic reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

CONTACT: Doug Busker, Director of Investor Relations HCC Insurance Holdings, Inc. Telephone: (713) 996-1192

Source:HCC Insurance Holdings, Inc.