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AMERISAFE Announces 2018 Fourth Quarter and Year-End Results

Reports $71.6 Million Net Income in 2018

DERIDDER, La., Feb. 27, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- AMERISAFE, Inc. (AMSF), a specialty provider of workers’ compensation insurance focused on high hazard industries, today announced results for the fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2018.

                       
  Three Months Ended       Twelve Months Ended    
  December 31,       December 31,    
    2018       2017     % Change     2018       2017     % Change
                                           
  (in thousands, except per share data)         (in thousands, except per share data)      
Net premiums earned $ 88,837     $ 87,377     1.7 %   $ 350,326     $ 346,156     1.2 %
Net investment income   8,056       7,312     10.2 %     30,452       29,281     4.0 %
Net realized gains (losses) on investments, pretax   (65 )     114     NM       (1,536 )     (647 )   137.4 %
Net income (1)   18,806       649     NM       71,632       46,231     54.9 %
Diluted earnings per share (1) $ 0.98     $ 0.03     NM     $ 3.71     $ 2.40     54.6 %
Operating net income   20,711       13,195     57.0 %     74,495       59,272     25.7 %
Operating earnings per share $ 1.07     $ 0.69     55.1 %   $ 3.86     $ 3.08     25.3 %
Book value per share $ 21.26     $ 22.10     -3.8 %   $ 21.26     $ 22.10     -3.8 %
Net combined ratio   81.0 %     88.3 %           82.9 %     84.7 %      
Return on average equity   17.3 %     0.6 %           17.2 %     10.5 %      
                                           
(1)  For 2017, includes $12.6 million, or $0.66 per share, of additional income tax expense related to the impact of tax legislation requiring net deferred tax assets to be revalued at the new federal corporate tax rate of 21%.
 

G. Janelle Frost, President and Chief Executive Officer, stated, “For policyholders the AMERISAFE value proposition hinges on our service.  We work with our insureds to evaluate risk, enhance safety, and intensively manage claims for best outcomes.  The service provided by our experienced employees has positioned AMERISAFE for consistent financial stability and strong returns for our shareholders.  We are pleased 2018 was no exception, with the Company reporting a combined ratio of 82.9% and a return on average equity of 17.2% in the midst of a soft, highly competitive market.”


Insurance Results

                       
  Three Months Ended       Twelve Months Ended    
  December 31,       December 31,    
    2018       2017     % Change     2018       2017     % Change
                                           
  (in thousands)       (in thousands)    
                       
Gross premiums written $ 75,328     $ 81,115     -7.1 %   $ 351,696     $ 350,267     0.4 %
Net premiums earned   88,837       87,377     1.7 %     350,326       346,156     1.2 %
Loss and loss adjustment expenses incurred   52,055       58,286     -10.7 %     204,891       209,324     -2.1 %
Underwriting and certain other operating costs,                                          
commissions, salaries and benefits   18,979       18,090     4.9 %     81,133       78,776     3.0 %
Policyholder dividends   858       761     12.7 %     4,148       4,868     -14.8 %
Underwriting profit (pre-tax) $ 16,945     $ 10,240     65.5 %   $ 60,154     $ 53,188     13.1 %
                                           
Insurance Ratios:                                          
Current accident year loss ratio   71.5 %     75.0 %           71.5 %     70.5 %      
Prior accident year loss ratio   -12.9 %     -8.3 %           -13.0 %     -10.0 %      
Net loss ratio   58.6 %     66.7 %           58.5 %     60.5 %      
Net underwriting expense ratio   21.4 %     20.7 %           23.2 %     22.8 %      
Net dividend ratio   1.0 %     0.9 %           1.2 %     1.4 %      
Net combined ratio   81.0 %     88.3 %           82.9 %     84.7 %      
                       
  • Voluntary premiums for policies written during the quarter ended December 31, 2018 decreased $6.1 million, or 7.9%, compared with the fourth quarter of 2017.  For the full year 2018, voluntary premiums written decreased 1.5%, compared with 2017.

  • Payroll audits and related premium adjustments increased premiums written by $2.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2018, compared with $2.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2017.  The fourth quarter of 2018 included a one-time $2.3 million reduction in other adjustments due to an error by the Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Rating Bureau in setting rates for a portion of 2018.  For the full year, payroll audits and related premium adjustments totaled $7.3 million in 2018 compared with $0.6 million in 2017, an increase of $6.7 million.

  • The current accident year loss ratio for the fourth quarter was 71.5%, unchanged from the first three quarters of 2018, and an increase of 1.0 percentage point from 70.5% for the full year 2017.  During the quarter, the Company experienced favorable case development for prior accident years which reduced loss and loss adjustment expenses by $11.5 million. Accident years 2015, 2016, as well as 2009 and 2011 were the primary contributors to the favorable development.  In total, prior accident year favorable development for the year ended December 31, 2018 was $45.6 million, compared with favorable development of $34.8 million in 2017.  These results reflect improved trends for both closing claims and claims severity and were driven largely by favorable case reserve development on claims that were closed during the year.

  • For the quarter ended December 31, 2018, the underwriting expense ratio was 21.4% compared to 20.7% in the same quarter in 2017.  The increase was due to higher premium-based assessments in the fourth quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago.  For the year ended December 31, 2018, the underwriting expense ratio was 23.2%, compared with 22.8% in 2017.

  • The effective tax rate for the quarter ended December 31, 2018 was 17.4%. Excluding the impact of revaluing deferred tax assets in the fourth quarter of 2017, the effective tax rate for the full year 2018 was 18.2% compared with 28.4% for 2017.  The decrease in the rate was due to the new lower federal corporate tax rate of 21% compared with 35% in 2017.


Investment Results

                       
  Three Months Ended       Twelve Months Ended    
  December 31,       December 31,    
    2018       2017     % Change     2018       2017     % Change
                                           
  (in thousands)       (in thousands)    
Net investment income  $ 8,056     $ 7,312     10.2 %   $ 30,452     $ 29,281     4.0 %
Net realized gains (losses) on                                          
investments (pre-tax)    (65 )     114     NM       (1,536 )     (647 )   137.4 %
Net unrealized losses on                                          
equity securities (pre-tax)    (2,347 )     -     NM       (2,088 )     -     NM  
Pre-tax investment yield    2.7 %     2.4 %           2.6 %     2.5 %      
Tax-equivalent yield (1)    3.2 %     2.9 %           3.2 %     2.9 %      
________________________________                        
(1) The tax equivalent yield is calculated using the effective interest rate and the appropriate marginal tax rate effective January 1, 2018. 
 
  • Net investment income for the quarter ending December 31, 2018, increased 10.2% to $8.1 million from $7.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2017, due to higher yields on investment securities.  For the full year 2018, net investment income was $30.5 million compared with $29.3 million for 2017, an increase of 4.0%.
  • Net unrealized losses on equity investments were $2.3 million for the fourth quarter of 2018, which reduced overall net income by $0.10 per share.
  • As of December 31, 2018, the carrying and fair value of AMERISAFE’s investment portfolio, including cash and cash equivalents, was $1.2 billion.  

Capital Management

In an accompanying announcement, the Company’s Board of Directors increased the regular quarterly dividend 14% from $0.22 per share to $0.25 per share, payable on March 22, 2019 to shareholders of record as of March 8, 2019.


Supplemental Information

               
  Three Months Ended   Twelve Months Ended
  December 31,   December 31,
    2018       2017       2018       2017  
                               
  (in thousands, except share and per share data)
               
Net income $ 18,806     $ 649     $ 71,632     $ 46,231  
Less: Impact of tax reform legislation   -       (12,620 )     -       (12,620 )
Less:                              
Net realized gains (losses) on investments   (65 )     114       (1,536 )     (647 )
Net unrealized losses on equity securities   (2,347 )     -       (2,088 )     -  
Tax effect (1)   507       (40 )     761       226  
Operating net income (2) $ 20,711     $ 13,195     $ 74,495     $ 59,272  
                               
Average shareholders’ equity (3) $ 434,379     $ 460,184     $ 417,593     $ 440,787  
Less:                              
Average accumulated other comprehensive income (loss)   (2,517 )     3,323       1,390       1,560  
Average adjusted shareholders’ equity $ 436,896     $ 456,861     $ 416,203     $ 439,227  
                               
Diluted weighted average common shares   19,284,923       19,246,150       19,293,082       19,245,866  
                               
Return on average equity (4)   17.3 %     0.6 %     17.2 %     10.5 %
Operating return on average adjusted equity (2)   19.0 %     11.4 %     17.9 %     13.3 %
Diluted earnings per share $ 0.98     $ 0.03     $ 3.71     $ 2.40  
Operating earnings per share (2) $ 1.07     $ 0.69     $ 3.86     $ 3.08  
________________________________                              
(1) The tax effect of net realized capital gains was calculated assuming an annual tax rate of 35% in 2017 and 21% in 2018.
 
(2) Operating net income, operating return on average adjusted equity and operating earnings per share are non-GAAP financial measures.  Management believes that investors’ understanding of core operating performance is enhanced by AMERISAFE’s disclosure of these financial measures.
 
(3) Average shareholders’ equity is calculated by taking the average of the beginning and ending shareholders’ equity.
 
(4) Return on average equity is calculated by dividing the annualized net income by the average shareholders’ equity.
 

Conference Call Information
AMERISAFE has scheduled a conference call for Thursday February 28, 2019, at 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time to discuss the results for the quarter and year, as well as the outlook for future periods.  To participate in the conference call dial 877-225-7695 (Domestic) or 720-545-0027 (International) at least ten minutes before the call begins and ask for the AMERISAFE conference call.  A replay of the call will be available approximately two hours after the live broadcast ends and will be accessible through March 7, 2019.  To access the replay, dial 855-859-2056 or 404-537-3406 and use the pass code 4089884#.

Investors, analysts and the general public will also have the opportunity to listen to the conference call over the Internet by visiting http://www.amerisafe.com.  To listen to the live call on the web, please visit the website at least fifteen minutes before the call begins to register, download and install any necessary audio software.  For those who cannot listen to the live webcast, an archive will be available shortly after the call at http://www.amerisafe.com.

About AMERISAFE
AMERISAFE, Inc. is a specialty provider of workers’ compensation insurance focused on small to mid-sized employers engaged in hazardous industries, principally construction, trucking, logging and lumber, manufacturing, and agriculture.  AMERISAFE actively markets workers’ compensation insurance in 27 states. 

Forward Looking Statements
Statements made in this press release that are not historical facts, including statements accompanied by words such as “will,” “believe,” “anticipate,” “expect,” “estimate,” or similar words are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 regarding AMERISAFE’s plans and performance.  These statements are based on management’s estimates, assumptions and projections as of the date of this release and are not guarantees of future performance and include statements regarding management’s views and expectations of the workers’ compensation market, the Company’s growth opportunities, underwriting margins and actions by competitors.  Actual results may differ materially from the results expressed or implied in these statements if the underlying assumptions prove to be incorrect or as the results of risks, uncertainties and other factors including the factors set forth in the Company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including AMERISAFE’s Annual Report on Form 10-K.  AMERISAFE cautions you not to place undue reliance on the forward-looking statements contained in this release.  AMERISAFE does not undertake any obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements to reflect future events, information or circumstances that arise after the date of this release.

- Tables to follow -


AMERISAFE, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
Consolidated Statements of Income
(in thousands)

               
  Three Months Ended   Twelve Months Ended
  December 31,   December 31,
    2018       2017       2018       2017  
                               
  (unaudited)   (unaudited)
       
Revenues:              
Gross premiums written $ 75,328     $ 81,115     $ 351,696     $ 350,267  
Ceded premiums written   (2,362 )     (2,288 )     (9,344 )     (8,869 )
Net premiums written $ 72,966     $ 78,827     $ 342,352     $ 341,398  
               
Net premiums earned $ 88,837     $ 87,377     $ 350,326     $ 346,156  
Net investment income   8,056       7,312       30,452       29,281  
Net realized gains (losses) on investments.   (65 )     114       (1,536 )     (647 )
Net unrealized losses on equity securities   (2,347 )     -       (2,088 )     -  
Fee and other income   188       134       599       418  
Total revenues   94,669       94,937       377,753       375,208  
               
Expenses:              
Loss and loss adjustment expenses incurred   52,055       58,286       204,891       209,324  
Underwriting and other operating costs   18,979       18,090       81,133       78,776  
Policyholder dividends   858       761       4,148       4,868  
Total expenses   71,892       77,137       290,172       292,968  
               
Income before taxes   22,777       17,800       87,581       82,240  
Income tax expense (1)   3,971       17,151       15,949       36,009  
Net income $ 18,806     $ 649     $ 71,632     $ 46,231  
               

(1)  For 2017, includes $12.6 million of additional income tax expense related to the impact of tax legislation requiring net deferred tax assets to be revalued at the new federal corporate tax rate of 21%.


AMERISAFE, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
Consolidated Statements of Income (cont.)
(in thousands, except per share amounts)

  Three Months Ended   Twelve Months Ended
  December 31,   December 31,
    2018       2017       2018     2017  
                             
  (unaudited)   (unaudited)        
Basic EPS:                            
Net income $ 18,806     $ 649     $ 71,632   $ 46,231  
                             
Basic weighted average common shares   19,223,189       19,177,261       19,208,978     19,165,489  
Basic earnings per share $ 0.98     $ 0.03     $ 3.73   $ 2.41  
                             
Diluted EPS:                            
Net income $ 18,806     $ 649     $ 71,632   $ 46,231  
                             
Diluted weighted average common shares:                            
Weighted average common shares   19,223,189       19,177,261       19,208,978     19,165,489  
Stock options and restricted stock   61,734       68,889       84,104     80,377  
Diluted weighted average common shares   19,284,923       19,246,150       19,293,082     19,245,866  
                             
Diluted earnings per share  $ 0.98     $ 0.03     $ 3.71   $ 2.40  
                             
                             

AMERISAFE, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
Consolidated Balance Sheets
(in thousands)

       
  December 31,   December 31,
  2018   2017
  (unaudited)    
Assets      
Investments  $ 1,125,490   $ 1,130,314
Cash and cash equivalents   40,344     55,559
Amounts recoverable from reinsurers    112,006     90,133
Premiums receivable, net    162,478     174,234
Deferred income taxes    21,852     19,262
Deferred policy acquisition costs    19,734     20,251
Other assets    34,027     28,483
  $ 1,515,931   $ 1,518,236
           
Liabilities and Shareholders’ Equity          
Liabilities:          
Reserves for loss and loss adjustment expenses  $ 798,409   $ 771,845
Unearned premiums    149,296     157,270
Insurance-related assessments    28,258     28,246
Other liabilities    130,206     135,452
           
Shareholders’ equity    409,762     425,423
Total liabilities and shareholders’ equity  $ 1,515,931   $ 1,518,236
           
           

 

Neal A. Fuller, EVP & CFO
AMERISAFE
337.463.9052