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CNA Financial (CNA) Up 5.2% Since Last Earnings Report: Can It Continue?

It has been about a month since the last earnings report for CNA Financial (CNA). Shares have added about 5.2% in that time frame, underperforming the S&P 500.

Will the recent positive trend continue leading up to its next earnings release, or is CNA Financial due for a pullback? Before we dive into how investors and analysts have reacted as of late, let's take a quick look at the most recent earnings report in order to get a better handle on the important drivers.

CNA Financial Q1 Earnings Miss Estimates, Down Y/Y

CNA Financial reported first-quarter 2020 core earnings of 40 cents per share, which lagged the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 28.6%. The bottom line declined 65.8% year over year.

The quarter saw solid underwriting performance including improvement in combined ratio as well as net written premium growth. However, financial market volatility attributable to COVID-19 outbreak resulted in unfavorable returns on alternative investments and equity holdings. Charges from COVID-19 outbreak amounted to $15 million, pretax.

Behind First-Quarter Headlines

Net written premiums at Property & Casualty Operations improved 3.2% year over year to $1.8 billion.

Net investment income plunged 40% year over year to $279 million. The decline was attributable to loss from limited partnership and common stock investments during the period, partially offset by stable earnings from fixed-income and other investments.

Property & Casualty combined ratio improved 30 basis points (bps) year over year to 97.5%.

Book value excluding AOCI as of Mar 31, 2020, was $42.12 per share, down 6% from Dec 31, 2019. Core return on equity was 3.7%, down 700 bps.

Segmental Results

Specialty’s net written premiums decreased 1% year over year to $694 million, attributable to higher level of ceded reinsurance. Combined ratio improved 100 bps to 91.3%.

Commercial’s net written premiums increased 12% year over year to $950 million, driven by higher new business and favorable rates. Combined ratio deteriorated 60 bps to 101.9%.

International’s net written premiums decreased 15% year over year to $219 million, attributable to a change in the timing of ceded reinsurance contract renewals, and the continued impact of the strategic exit from certain Lloyd's business classes, offset by growth in Canada. Combined ratio improved 200 bps to 99.9%.

Life & Group’s total operating revenues were $335 million, in line with the year-ago quarter’s figure. Core income was $4 million, down 60% year over year.

Corporate & Other’s core loss of $18 million was wider than loss of $6 million incurred in the prior-year period, attributable to lower amortization of deferred gain related to the A&EP Loss Portfolio Transfer.

Dividend Update

CNA Financial announced dividend of 37 cents per share. The dividend will be paid out on Jun 4, 2020, to stockholders of record as of May 18.

How Have Estimates Been Moving Since Then?

Fresh estimates followed a downward path over the past two months. The consensus estimate has shifted -21.13% due to these changes.

VGM Scores

At this time, CNA Financial has a subpar Growth Score of D, however its Momentum Score is doing a bit better with a C. However, the stock was allocated a grade of A on the value side, putting it in the top quintile for this investment strategy.

Overall, the stock has an aggregate VGM Score of B. If you aren't focused on one strategy, this score is the one you should be interested in.


CNA Financial has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). We expect an in-line return from the stock in the next few months.

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