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Alleghany (Y) Banks on Premium Growth Amid Cost Concerns

Alleghany Corporation Y is well-poised for growth, driven by new business opportunities, growth in various lines of business and strategic acquisitions.

Growth in most RSUI Group, Inc. (RSUI) lines of business owing to increases in business opportunities, higher rates and improved general market conditions should continue to drive the net premiums of the Insurance segment.

Banking on improving rates overall, growth in various professional liability and the agriculture lines of business in the United States, higher gross premiums written from automobile-related business in the United States, as well as the impact of favorable changes in foreign exchange rates, the Reinsurance segment is likely to witness growth in the long term. Riding on the company’s growing underwriting income, its combined ratio is improving.

Such tailwinds are likely to boost the revenue growth of this property and casualty insurer. Notably it witnessed a six-year CAGR (2015-2020) of 10.1%.

As part of its strategic initiatives, Alleghany Capital pursues acquisitions through its subsidiaries. These not only widen its geographical presence but also strengthen its portfolio. In May 2021, Alleghany acquired 100% of Wilbert, Inc. through a newly formed subsidiary, Piedmont Manufacturing Group. The acquisition is expected to boost its portfolio.

Its other notable buyouts include acquiring a majority stake in Kellytoy, and the purchase of Wicked Cool Toys and Supermill LLC. All these initiatives underline Alleghany’s efforts to boost non-insurance revenues.

The company boasts a solid balance sheet with low relative leverage and robust cash positions. In addition, it continued to maintain a cash and cash equivalent position of $871.5 million. In the first half of 2021, cash flow from operations surged more than three-fold year over year. It has access to an unsecured revolving credit facility of $300 million, which is scheduled to expire on Jul 31, 2022. The robust capital position enables it to deploy capital effectively. At present, it has $333.3 million remaining under its repurchase authorization.

However, Alleghany, being a property and casualty insurer, has been exposed to catastrophe losses. The catastrophe losses were primarily related to winter storms, which caused widespread property damage and flooding. Such high levels of losses induce underwriting volatility.

The insurer witnessed escalated expenses over the last several years due to higher losses and loss adjustment expenses, operating expense and commissions, brokerage and other underwriting expenses. Such costs tend to weigh on the company’s margins.

Other Insurers

Some other property and casualty insurance sector players include American Financial Group, Inc. AFG, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK.B) and Fidelity National Financial, Inc. FNF.

The bottom line of American Financial surpassed estimates in each of the last four quarters, the average being 52.82%.

Berkshire Hathaway surpassed estimates in three of the last four quarters and missed in one, the average earnings surprise being 6.8%.

Fidelity National’s earnings surpassed estimates in each of the last four quarters, the average being 37.32%.

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