HAMILTON, Bermuda – February 12, 2020 – Argo Group International Holdings, Ltd. (“Argo” or the “Company”) (NYSE: ARGO) announced today that its results for the fourth quarter of 2019 will be adversely affected by certain loss and expense items, summarized in more detail below.
“Argo’s results for the 2019 fourth quarter and full year are clearly unacceptable,” said Argo Group Interim CEO Kevin Rehnberg. “The industry is experiencing rising claims severity in several lines of business. We have taken appropriate action to adjust our current and prior accident year loss ratios in response to these conditions and to specific information received in the quarter. We believe the actions taken strengthen our balance sheet and position us for a more profitable future.”
“We are experiencing substantial rate increases across our platform, with strong double-digit gains in International and certain U.S. liability lines. Our capital position remains strong, we are continuing to refine our product strategies and we are well positioned to take advantage of opportunities in the specialty commercial insurance marketplace.”
Key items affecting the fourth quarter include:
- Prior accident year losses of approximately $77 million or 18.0 points on Argo’s consolidated loss ratio for the fourth quarter. Reserve increases were related to the Company’s London, Bermuda Insurance and European business units within Argo’s International Operations, as well as property, professional and liability lines within Argo’s U.S. Operations. Prior accident year losses in both segments were the result of new information received in the quarter relating to claims trends across various lines of business, as well as a continued review of International business currently in run-off. Prior year losses also include the conclusion of Argo’s annual review of Run-off reserves, which resulted in a $10 million reserve increase.
- Current accident year losses of approximately $30 million, or an additional 6 points when compared to the third quarter 2019 year-to-date current accident year loss ratio of 59%. The adjustment reflects a change in actuarial estimates based on a more uncertain claims environment and the recalibration of the current year based on prior accident year loss adjustments.
- Catastrophe losses and related reinstatement premiums of approximately $3 million, or 0.5 points on Argo’s consolidated loss ratio for the fourth quarter. Catastrophe losses were primarily related to Typhoon Hagibis and were partially offset by a modest reduction to estimated losses for prior quarter events.
- Additional operating expenses of approximately $12 million or 2.9 points related to costs associated with a reduction in workforce, an allowance for doubtful accounts related to our European business unit, and adjustments to underwriting expenses based on certain costs previously allocated to investment functions and trade capital providers.
Based on these items discussed above, Argo expects to report an underwriting loss of approximately $114 million for the quarter.
Additionally, several non-operating charges will be reflected in fourth quarter results:
- As part of an ongoing strategic review and recent operating results, a goodwill impairment of approximately $16 million related to Argo’s European business unit.
- Expenses of approximately $18 million related to losses and impairments on certain long-lived assets that are held for sale, primarily a corporate aircraft and real estate properties; the cancellation of contracts related to certain sponsorships and marketing services; and to severance costs associated with separation from Argo’s former CEO.
- Other corporate expenses of approximately $8 million, which primarily resulted from costs related to the previously announced independent directors’ review of certain governance and compensation matters and Argo’s cooperation agreement with Voce Capital.
Argo Schedules Earnings Release for February 24, 2020
The company will release fourth quarter 2019 financial results after the close of U.S. financial markets on Monday, February 24, 2020. Company management will conduct an investor conference call starting at 11 a.m. EST on Tuesday, February 25, 2020.
Instructions for Connecting to the February 25, 2020 Conference Call
A live webcast of the conference call can be accessed at https://services.choruscall.com/links/argo200225.html. Participants in the U.S. can access the call by dialing (877) 291-5203. Callers dialing from outside the U.S. can access the call by dialing
(412) 902-6610. Please ask the operator to be connected to the Argo Group earnings call.
A webcast replay will be available shortly after the live conference call and can be accessed at https://services.choruscall.com/links/argo200225.html. A telephone replay of the conference call will be available through March 3, 2020, to callers in the U.S. by dialing (877) 344-7529 (conference 10139284). Callers dialing from outside the U.S. can access the telephone replay by dialing
(412) 317-0088 (conference 10139284).
ABOUT LOSS ESTIMATES
Argo Group’s estimates of losses are based on claims received to date, policy-level reviews, discussions with distribution partners, the Company’s internal and external modeling resources, and publicly available industry loss estimates. Argo Group’s estimates are dependent on broad assumptions about coverage, liability, reinsurance and potential changes to both known and unknown claims. Accordingly, the actual ultimate net impact may differ materially from Argo Group’s estimates.
ABOUT ARGO GROUP INTERNATIONAL HOLDINGS, LTD.
Argo Group International Holdings, Ltd. (NYSE: ARGO), is an international underwriter of specialty insurance and reinsurance products in the property and casualty market. Argo Group offers a full line of products and services designed to meet the unique coverage and claims handling needs of businesses in two primary segments: U.S. Operations and International Operations. Argo Group’s insurance subsidiaries are A.M. Best-rated “A” (Excellent), and Argo Group’s U.S. insurance subsidiaries are Standard and Poor’s-rated “A-” (Strong). More information on Argo Group and its subsidiaries is available at www.argolimited.com.
This press release may include forward-looking statements, both with respect to Argo Group and its industry, that reflect our current views with respect to future events and financial performance. These statements are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such statements are qualified by the inherent risks and uncertainties surrounding future expectations generally and also may differ materially from actual future experience involving any one or more of such statements. In addition, any estimates relating to loss events involve the exercise of considerable judgment and reflect a combination of ground-up evaluations, information available to date from brokers and cedants, market intelligence, initial tentative loss reports and other sources. The actuarial range of reserves and management’s best estimate is based on our then current state of knowledge including explicit and implicit assumptions relating to the pattern of claim development, the expected ultimate settlement amount, inflation and dependencies between lines of business. Our internal capital model is used to consider the distribution for reserving risk around this best estimate and predict the potential range of outcomes. However, due to the complexity of factors contributing to the losses and the preliminary nature of the information used to prepare these estimates, there can be no assurance that Argo Group’s ultimate losses will remain within the stated amount. For a more detailed discussion of such risks and uncertainties, see Argo Group’s filings with the SEC. The inclusion of a forward-looking statement herein should not be regarded as a representation by Argo Group that Argo Group’s objectives will be achieved. Argo Group undertakes no obligation to publicly update forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
Forward-looking statements include all statements that do not relate solely to historical or current facts, and can be identified by the use of words such as “expect,” “intend,” “plan,” “believe,” “do not believe,” “aim,” “project,” “anticipate,” “seek,” “will,” “likely,” “assume,” “estimate,” “may,” “continue,” “guidance,” “objective,” “outlook,” “trends,” “future,” “could,” “would,” “should,” “target,” “on track” and similar expressions of a future or forward-looking nature. All forward-looking statements address matters that involve risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond Argo Group’s control. Accordingly, there are or will be important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated in such statements and, therefore, you should not place undue reliance on any such statements.
Head of Investor Relations
Senior Vice President, Group Communications