Having range traded since the start of the year, Insurance Australia Group (ASX: IAG) couldn’t turn a trick this morning – share price down -3.28% at the open – despite the insurer revealing its on track to report $347m in net profit (NPAT) for FY22, compared with a -$427m loss last year and a gross written premium of 5.7%.
At face value the announcement looked encouraging, with the insurer experiencing mid-to-high single digit gross written premium (GWP) growth and a reported insurance margin of 14 to 16% for FY23.
IAG's underlying insurance margin during the second half also rose to 14.1% from 13.5% in previous period.
But what clearly worried investors this morning were accompanying revelations that despite company’s profit from insurance of $586m, the reported insurance margin of 7.4% was well below the company’s prior guidance of 10% to 12% and virtually half the insurance profit margin of 13.5% in FY21.
While management is confident FY23 will be a much stronger year for the company, today’s result may also force investors to rethink the stock’s defensive qualities and perceived pricing power ability to pass on higher costs.
Management noted that underlying weakness in margins reflected “net natural peril costs” of $1.1bn, which was roughly a third ($354m) more than initially provided for.
The company also flagged a reserve strengthening of $172m plus negative credit spread impacts of $45m.
There was also a $200m pre-tax release from the business interruption provision.
Putting a brave face on today’s result, CEO Nick Hawkins suggested to investors that today’s guidance demonstrates both top-line and margin improvement.
Having been impacted by claims inflation in key home and motor portfolios, Hawkins also noted that a major increase in the group’s natural perils allowance helped to ensure the business can withstand the impact of increasing frequency and severity of natural perils.
“In our intermediated business, the steps we’ve taken to improve the performance are showing promising signs and positions us well to deliver the targeted insurance profit of $250 million in FY24,” he stated.
“By creating a more focused operating model, a leadership team with deep expertise, and a clear strategy for growth we have confidence in the future.”
IAG will release final audited FY22 results 12 August.
Get the latest news and media direct to your inbox