QUOTE AND NEWS
Motley Fool  6 hrs ago  Comment 
So far, Travelers has dodged major catastrophic losses for a long time. Are investors ready for the inevitable?
Market Intelligence Center  Jul 10  Comment 
Travelers Companies Inc (TRV) was selected by MarketIntelligenceCenter.com’s trade-picking algorithms today after trading between $94.23 and $94.77 on Wednesday before closing at $94.70. A diagonal spread using a long position in the Jan. '15...
Forbes  Jun 19  Comment 
The latest tally of analyst opinions from the major brokerage houses shows that among the 30 stocks making up the Dow Jones Industrial Average, Travelers Companies (TRV) is the #18 analyst pick.  Within the broader S&P 500, when components were...
Insurance Journal  Jun 19  Comment 
The last phase of previously announced job cuts at The Travelers Companies’ Syracuse, N.Y., office will begin in September. The company’s Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act notice — filed with the New York state...
Market Intelligence Center  Jun 18  Comment 
For a hedged play on Travelers Companies Inc (TRV) MarketIntelligenceCenter.com’s algorithms selected the Oct. '14 $95.00 covered call for a net debit in the $92.22 area. That is also the break-even stock price for the covered call. This trade...
Motley Fool  Jun 17  Comment 
Strong book value growth and shareholder orientation make this insurance company a Strong Buy.
TheStreet.com  Jun 17  Comment 
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Travelers Companies  stock has been downgraded to "market perform," BMO said. The firm said the revision was a valuation call based on an increased price target of $98 a share.  Must read: Warren Buffett's 25 Favorite...
Motley Fool  Jun 13  Comment 
Travelers Companies remains committed to generating midteen operating return on equity overtime.
StreetInsider.com  Jun 10  Comment 
Visit StreetInsider.com at http://www.streetinsider.com/Corporate+News/Travelers+Cos%2C+Inc.+%28TRV%29+Names+Two+Segment+CEOs/9568657.html for the full story.
Insurance Journal  Jun 9  Comment 
Travelers Cos. Chief Executive Officer Jay Fishman highlighted the insurer’s history of posting better returns than banks and other large financial companies amid a period of increased Wall Street regulation. Fishman’s company had an average...




 

Travelers Companies, INC. (NYSE: TRV) sells property & casualty insurance. The company is divided into three business segments: business insurance; financial, professional and international insurance; and personal insurance, with its business insurance accounting for the majority of its revenue at about 54% of sales.[1] The company earns its revenue primarily through its sales of insurance premiums or premiums earned- approximately 88% of TRV's revenue is attributed to premiums earned.[2] In 2008, Travelers earned $24.5 billion in revenue, 5.9% less than 2007 because of increases in claims expenses and lower earnings from its investments.[3]

Like other insurance companies, Travelers relies on investing its premium revenue to create a pool of assets (known as "claims loss provision" ) which it can use to pay out future claims. However, the company's earnings from its investments dropped 26% in 2008 because of the 2008 Financial Crisis.[4] In particular, Travelers' investments are vulnerable to fluctuations in interest rates because the value of TRV's numerous bonds decrease as interest rates rise.[5] Additionally, Travelers is susceptible to the accuracy of its catastrophe models as incorrect estimates may result in inadequate premiums to fund the necessary claims expenses. However, its combined ratio of 85.9% in 2008 beat the 104.7% average combined ratio of the overall property & casualty insurance industry.[6][7] This means that on average, TRV's competitors paid more in claims expenses than they earned in 2008 while Travelers performed close to the top of the industry.

On June 1, 2009, it was announced that Travelers would replace Citigroup (C) on the Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJIA) effective as of June 8th.[8] The move restores insurance presence on the Dow following the removal of American International Group (AIG) in September 2008, which was replaced by Kraft Foods (KFT).[8]

Business Overview

The Travelers Companies, Inc. sells property & casualty insurance products and services to businesses, government units, associations and individuals.[9] Travelers earns revenue by selling insurance to policyholders who pay a premium in exchange for compensation for particular losses they may incur. The company divides its operations into 3 business segments: business insurance; financial, professional and international insurance; and personal insurance.[1]

Business and Financial Metrics

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"Travelers 5 Year Financial Overview" [10]

TRV earned $24.5 billion in revenue in 2008, a 5.9% decrease from 2007.[10][3] From 2004 to 2007, however, Travelers' revenue grew by 15.4%.[10] The company earns the majority of its revenue through premiums earned or sales of insurance premiums as about 88.2% of its 2008 revenue was attributed to premiums sales.[2] Premiums Earned in 2008 totaled $21.58 billion, an increase of slightly less than 1% from 2007 because of increased sales in its financial, professional and international and personal insurance segments, which was partially offset by a 1% decline in premiums earned in TRV's business insurance segment.[11] TRV's other significant revenue source is net investment income, or earnings from its investments. In 2008, the company earned $2.79 billion from its investments, a 26% drop from 2007 because of the global economic downturn.[4] In particular, the value of TRV's portfolio declined because lower market values of its maturity investments as well as lower interest rates, which devalued the company's bonds.[4]

As with all insurance companies, Travelers' primary operating expenses are its claims and claim adjustment expenses, which totaled $12.99 billion in 2008.[12] These expenses relfect a 5% growth from 2007 associated with increases in the cost of catastrophes and weather-related losses in personal insurance during the year.[12] In 2008, TRV operated at an 85.9% combined ratio, or operating expenses divided by premiums earned.[7]

Overall, Travelers earned $2.92 billion in net income in 2008, 36% lower than 2007.[2] This drop was primarily a result of lower revenue associated with significantly less income earned from net investments coupled with the increase in claims expenses in 2008.[2]

Business Segments

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"Travelers Revenue by Business Segment" [13]

Business Insurance (54.3% of Revenue, 67.7% of Operating Income)

Travelers' business insurance segment sells a range of property and casualty insurance to its clients primarily in the United States. The business insurance segment sells insurance through about 8,500 independent agencies and brokers throughout the U.S.[14] In 2008, TRV's business insurance segment earned $13.5 billion in revenue, a 6.9% decrease from a year earlier.[15] A 1% drop in premiums earned as well as a significant decline in net investment revenue contributed to the segment's decline in 2008.[16] TRV divides its business insurance segment into six divisions:

Select Accounts: serve small businesses of generally less than 50 employees for property and casualty insurance products.[14] Select accounts earned $2.75 billion in revenue in 2008, accounting for 24.6% of overall business insurance revenue.[14]

Commercial Accounts: serve mid-sized companies of between 50 and 1,000 employees, offering property and casualty insurance products.[17] In 2008, commercial accounts earned $2.5 billion in revenue, or 22.4% of overall business insurance revenue.[14]

National Accounts: include casualty insurance products and services sold to large companies. In 2008, worker's compensation accounted for approximately 76% of sales to national accounts.[17] National accounts contributed to 8.9% of the company's 2008 business revenue, earning $996 million during the year.[14]

Industry-Focused Underwriting: sells insurance premiums targeted to particular industries including Construction, Technology, Public Sector Services, Oil and Gas, and Agribusiness.[17] In 2008, the segment earned $2.4 billion in revenue or 21.4% of the company's overall business insurance revenue.[14]

Target Risk Underwriting: serves unique insurance packages to specialized customers including companies or organizations that operate in the National Property and Ocean Marine industries.[17] Target risk underwriting earned $1.6 billion in revenue in 2008, accounting for 14.2% of the segment's overall premium sales.[14]

Specialized Distribution: includes insurance products and services sold through wholesale agents in markets typically not served by TRV's traditional agents.[18] Specialized distribution accounted for 8.4% of the business insurance segment's 2008 revenue.[14]

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"Travelers Revenue by Geographic Region" [19]

Financial, Professional and International Insurance (15.7% of Revenue, 18.8% of Operating Income)

TRV's financial, professional and international insurance segment sells financial liability coverages and property and casualty insurance in the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland and Canada.[20] In 2008, the segment earned $3.5 billion, about the same from a year earlier.[21] However, the segment's operating income dropped by 4% during 2008 primarily because of an increase in the amount of large losses, particularly losses associated with catastrophes.[22] The company divides this segment into two markets: bond and financial products and international.[21]

Bond and Financial Products: provides customers with bond and insurance products as well as risk management services.[21] The segment's services cover professional and management liabilities for a diverse group of customers including public and private corporations, not-for-profit organizations, lawyers, real estate agents, and so forth.[21] Bond and financial products accounted for 64.2% of the segment's overall 2008 revenue, earning $2.2 billion in 2008.[21]

International: sells international insurance products in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Canada through Lloyds Banking Group (LYG). TRV earned $1.2 billion in revenue from selling international insurance in 2008.[21]

Personal Insurance (30% of Revenue, 13.5% of Operating Income)

TRV's personal insurance segment sells property and casualty insurance covering personal risks. In 2008, the personal insurance segment earned about $7 billion, a 2.3% increase from a year earlier.[15] The primary coverages in personal insurance are automoblie and homeowners insurance, with each accounting for 52.3% and 47.7% of the segment's overall 2008 revenue, respectively.[23]

Trends and Forces

Travelers' Catastrophe Modeling Leads to Lower Combined Ratio than Competitors

TRV's catastrophe models have proven to be more accurate than many of its competitors. In 2008, TRV's combined ratio or claims expenses divided by premiums earned was 85.9%.[7] The lower the combined ratio the better, as any ratio over 100% means that the insurer is paying out more than it is earning in revenue. Comparatively, the property & casualty insurance industry overall had a combined ratio of 104.7% in 2008.[6] Additionally, TRV's most direct competitor Chubb (CB), operated at a combined ratio of 88.7% in 2008 meaning that Travelers' minimized its risk exposure more effectively than CB.[24]

Because catastrophes usually incur large claims for its policyholders, TRV depends heavily on catastrophe modeling in order to make underwriting and reinsurance decisions. Essentially, Travelers uses catastrophe models to decide how much to charge for particular premiums to manage its exposure to catastrophic risks while earning a profit at the same time. For example, the company's hurricane model estimates that there is a 1% chance that TRV's loss from a single hurricane in a one-year time frame would exceed $1.3 billion, or approximately 5% of the company's common equity as of the end of its fiscal year 2008.[25] Thus, the company will charge adequate premiums to ensure that it will be able to earn a profit even in the rare chance that a hurricane costing $1.3 billion in claims does occur. However, catastrophe models rely greatly on rather ambiguous judgments and assumptions that differ across insurance companies. As a result, catastrophe model estimates are subject to a high degree of uncertainty and actual losses from a catastrophic event may exceed the predetermined threshold loss amount.

Fluctuations of Interest Rates Weaken Travelers' Bond- Heavy Investment Portfolio

Travelers' claims loss provision is more heavily invested in bonds than many of its competitors like Chubb (CB). Therefore, Travelers' investments are vulnerable to fluctuations in interest rates as TRV's bonds decrease in value as interest rates rise because its portfolio is comprised of 95% bonds.[5][7] For example, Athough TRV's income from net investments declined 26% in 2008 largely because non-fixed maturity investments (private equity, hedge funds, and partnerships) fell due to the 2008 Financial Crisis, if the opposite scenario were true, that interest rates were rising due to a growing economy, TRV would see its bond portfolio suffer.[26] Conversely, TRV's competitor Chubb (CB) has a more diversified portfolio, and as a result, its net investment income grew 2% in 2008.[24]

Moving into 2009, the company expects that a worsening economic environment will further reduce its earnings from investments and thus may jeoporadize its claims loss provision [27]

Competition

Travelers primarily competes with other insurers that specialize in property & casualty insurance. Within the property & casualty insurance niche, Travelers competes directly with Chubb (CB), Loews (L), and CNA Financial (CNA) although other insurers like Allstate (ALL) operate business segments that compete with TRV's products. TRV is the largest insurer in terms of revenue in the property & casualty insurance industry and its combined ratio of 85.9%[7] is one of the highest across the industry.

  • Chubb (CB) is a holding company for a group of property and casualty insurance companies that is divided into Chubb Commercial Insurance, Chubb Specialty Insurance, and Chubb Personal Insurance.[28] Chubb is TRV's most direct competitor because of its large size in terms of revenue and sharp performance at an 88.7% combined ratio.[24]
  • Loews (L) operates a variety of businesses in commercial property and casualty insurance, Oil & Gas Drilling & Exploration, and hotels.[29] Loews' operated at a 109% combined margin in 2008, meaning that it paid more in claims expenses than it earned in premiums sales.[30]
  • CNA Financial (CNA) is an insurance holding company. The company's property and casualty insurance is operated through its Continental Casualty Company and Continental Insurance Company subsidiaries. These businesses serve similar customers as TRV including businesses of varying sizes, professionals, and associations.[31] In 2008, it operated at a combined ratio of 109%[32] and operated at a loss of $251 million because of large net investment losses during the year.[31]
Comparison to Competitors in 2008
Company Premiums Earned (Millions) Net Investment Income (Millions) Total Revenue Combined Ratio Net Income (Millions) (Loss)
Travelers[33] $21,969 $2,792 $24,477 85.9%[7] $2,924
Chubb (CB)[34] $11,828 $1,732 $13,221 88.7%[24] $1,804
Loews (L)[35] $7,150 $1,581 $13,247 109%[30] $580
CNA Financial (CNA)[31] $7,151 $1,619 $7,799 109%[32] ($251)




References

  1. 1.0 1.1 TRV 2008 10-K, Item 8, pg. 179
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 TRV 2008 10-K, Item 7, pg. 70
  3. 3.0 3.1 TRV 2008 10-K, Item 8, pg. 156
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 TRV 2008 10-K, Item 7, pg. 72
  5. 5.0 5.1 TRV 2008 10-K, Item 7, pg. 111
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Has The Combined Ratio For P/C Peaked? (ACE, CNA, L, TRV, ASI)" Investopedia.com 4/15/2009
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 "The safety of Travelers" CnnMoney.com 2/19/2009
  8. 8.0 8.1
  9. TRV 2008 10-K, Item 1, pg. 1
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 TRV 2008 10-K, Item 6, pg. 68
  11. TRV 2008 10-K, Item 7, pg. 71
  12. 12.0 12.1 TRV 2008 10-K, Item 7, pg. 75
  13. TRV 2008 10-K, Item 8, pg. 180
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 14.6 14.7 TRV 2008 10-K, Item 1, pg. 5
  15. 15.0 15.1 TRV 2008 10-K, Item 8, pg 181
  16. TRV 2008 10-K, Item 7, pg. 78
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 TRV 2008 10-K, Item 1, pg. 6
  18. TRV 2008 10-K, Item 1, pg. 7
  19. TRV 2008 10-K, Item 8, pg. 183
  20. TRV 2008 10-K, Item 1, pg. 12
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 21.4 21.5 TRV 2008 10-K, Item 1, pg. 11
  22. TRV 2008 10-K, Item 7, pg. 84
  23. TRV 2008 10-K, Item 1, pg. 15
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 24.3 CB 2008 10-K, Item 7, pg. 32
  25. TRV 2008 10-K, Item 7, pg. 107
  26. TRV 2008 10-K, Item 7, pg. 72
  27. TRV 2008 10-K, Item 7, pg. 112
  28. Chubb GoogleFinance Page
  29. Loews GoogleFinance Page
  30. 30.0 30.1 Loews 2008 10-K, Item 1, pg. 5
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 CNA GoogleFinance Page
  32. 32.0 32.1 CNA 2008 10-K, Item 1, pg. 5
  33. TRV Reuters Page
  34. CB Reuters Page
  35. Loews Reuters Page
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