Allied World Assurance Holdings, Ltd. (NYSE:AWH)

CAPS Rating: 5 out of 5

A Bermuda-based specialty insurance and reinsurance company that underwrites a diversified portfolio of property and casualty insurance and reinsurance lines of business.

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Player Avatar NetscribeInsuran (28.24) Submitted: 3/12/2007 6:30:13 AM : Outperform Start Price: $12.27 AWH Score: +149.77

Incorporated in November 2001, Allied World Assurance Holdings, Ltd is a specialty insurance and reinsurance company that operates in Bermuda, the United States, Ireland and the United Kingdom. The company has three business segments viz, property insurance that includes physical property and business interruption coverage for commercial property and energy-related risks, casualty insurance providing coverage for general, product, professional and healthcare liability which contributes 36% of total revenues and reinsurance segment focusing on regular as well as catastrophe coverages written by other insurance companies accounting for 36% of the business.
In 2006, company’s revenue rose 2% to $1.47 billion led by increase in net premiums written and a significant increase in net realized investment losses. Net income totaled $442.8 million vs. a loss of $159.8 million which reflected a decrease in net losses and loss expenses, lower acquisition costs and the presence of foreign exchange gain vs. a loss. Lower losses were the effect of reduced catastrophe losses which improved the combined ratio to a healthy 78.8% compared to a disastrous 124.4% in 2005.
Company’s earnings prospects remain strong due to the diversified business mix which provides opportunities to grow where market conditions remain favorable, and the flexibility to shift its book of business to write coverage in areas offering compelling risk-adjusted returns. It is this reason due to which the company’s reinsurance segment was boosted by 35% in 2006, while property and casualty declined. In January renewal season, rates declined hence it chose not to renew unacceptable business where cedents were looking for higher commissions and thereby protecting the margins. Moreover in Bermuda, company is pulling back from commercial casualty segments where rates are declining which could harm the underwriting ratio while strategizing to expand in middle-market for commercial business.
The company has had an impressive run since its initial public offering back in July 2006, when it was priced at $34.00 per share. Since then, the stock has appreciated by about 20%, yet the company’s Price to Earnings multiple is trading at a just 5.23, which is much lower than the industry’s average. This makes the company a dark horse, a valuation story and a positive choice among investors.

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