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Data room: Share price movements

Specialty insurers outperform cat writers

Specialty insurers have continued to outperform cat (re)insurers in the first half of July, maintaining a trend that began earlier this year. Over the month, AmTrust's stock is up 10 percent, RLI stock is up 8.7 percent, Maiden is up 7.4 percent, WR Berkley is up 7.2 percent and Argo is up 6.4 percent - all outperforming the S&P 500's rise of 4.6 percent.

However, catastrophe-focused reinsurers have not performed so well. RenaissanceRe's stock is up just 2.3 percent so far this month, while Everest Re is up 2.2 percent, PartnerRe is up 1.7 percent and Validus is down 2.3 percent.

Validus said last week that it expects to incur a $69.6mn loss from the European floods.

Meanwhile, investors shrugged off the news that Dublin-headquartered XL is the lead liability insurer for last weekend's Canadian train crash. XL's share price rose 4.4 percent last week, the third highest rise over the week.

London stocks underperform FTSE

London-listed (re)insurers lagged behind the FTSE 100's 5 percent rise last week.

Lancashire was the worst performer, with its stock down 0.4 percent. Hiscox and Amlin climbed by 2.7 percent, Beazley was up 2.2 percent, Catlin stock rose 1.6 percent and Novae shares were up 1.2 percent over the week.

The underperformance may reflect the limited enthusiasm for property cat-related stocks, as the listed London market (re)insurers are heavily leveraged towards property catastrophe business.

The FTSE 100, alongside other global equity markets, surged last week after US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said that monetary policy would be "highly accommodative" for the near future. Equity investors are nervous about the prospect of an end to quantitative easing and the impact this may have on the global economy.

German heavyweights march ahead

In contrast to London, European (re)insurers mostly outpaced the Stoxx 50's 3 percent rise last week. Germany-based (re)insurance heavyweights Munich Re and Allianz reaped the largest gains, with their share prices up by 5.6 percent and 4.8 percent respectively.

Meanwhile, Zurich-headquartered Swiss Re was up 2.8 percent over the week, despite announcing that it expected to take a $300mn European flood loss. The reinsurer also confirmed talks had started on a merger of its legacy acquisition unit Admin Re with UK life assurance firm Phoenix Group.

Share in Europe's third largest insurer Generali traded flat, despite the firm announcing a EUR400mn buy-out of Generali Deutschland, which will give it full control of the German subsidiary. Elsewhere, European stocks were buoyed by signs that the US central bank would step in if its economy re-entered a downturn.

Willis ahead of rivals again

Willis continued to outperform its main rivals last week, as its share price climbed by 5 percent.

Aon and Marsh were up by 2.1 and 2.8 percent respectively thanks to renewed confidence in the global economy.

Willis's stock has risen 28.6 percent compared to the same point last year. However, smaller brokers Brown & Brown and AJ Gallagher have performed even better, as their stock is up 32.6 percent and 31.4 percent respectively year-on-year.

JLT is the only broker in our universe that experienced share price falls over the past week. Its stock fell by 1.7 percent last week, although it remains up 11.8 percent year-on-year.

Stocks elsewhere were buoyed by signals that the Federal Reserve would not sit back if higher interest rates damaged the US economy. Some fear that a hike in rates may pop a stock market bubble, especially as China tightens its monetary policy at the same time.

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