Q4 Sandy losses top $47.9m

Mark Watson Argo president and CEO

Argo Group International Holdings boosted its profits by more than 20% during 2012, representing a 3.5% return on equity.

The Bermuda insurer posted net income of $52.3m or $2.01 per share last year (2011: $38m or $1.46 per share).

For the fourth quarter, Argo reported a net loss of $4.7m or 19 cents per share (Q4 2011: profit of $1.4m or five cents per share).

Gross written premiums for 2012 increased 13% to $1.7bn (2011: $1.5bn).

Combined ratio improved to 104.6% (2011: 119.8%).

Argo’s estimated catastrophe losses topped $69.8m in 2012 (2011: $207.8m), including $47.9m from Superstorm Sandy.

“Notwithstanding Hurricane Sandy’s impact on the fourth quarter, we made significant progress towards our strategic, operational and financial goals,” said Argo Group chief executive Mark Watson.

“Three of our four business segments produced premium growth and operating profits for the year, and we continue executing on internal initiatives to enhance operating efficiency and profitability. We have more work to do, but I’m optimistic overall about what we can achieve.”

Net investment income dropped to $118.8m in 2012 (2011: $125.8m).

Book value increased 9.3% to $60.75 per share over the same period (2011: $55.60 per share).

During 2012, the company repurchased $44.6m or 1,488,308 shares.