Esure share price soars to record high as it avoids discount rate hit

 
Emma Haslett
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The company split from GoCompare in November

Esure zoomed to the top of the FTSE 250 in late-morning trading after the insurer said it was in "full growth mode", and added it had avoided taking a hit from changes to discount rate rules.

The figures

In results posted this morning, Esure said underlying post-tax profits rose 18 per cent to 80.5m in the year to the end of December, with gross written premiums rising 19 per cent to £655m and in-force premiums rising 8.6 per cent to £2.2m.

The combined operating ratio was 98.8 per cent, compared with 97.8 per cent the year before.

The company said it had made £24.5m from GoCompare before the pair were demerged back in November, up from £20.2m in 2015.

Earnings per share rose to 64.6p, up from 29.3p last year, while the company hiked its dividend to 13.5p per share, up from 11.5p per share in 2015.

Not surprisingly, shares were up 7.5 per cent at 239.1p in late morning trading - a record high.

Why it's interesting

At the end of last month insurers' share prices plummeted after the government announced changes meaning the rate at which they discount compensation on personal injury claims was adjusted from 2.5 per cent to minus 0.75 per cent.

Shares in Esure rivals Admiral and Direct Line plummeted, but today Esure said it will take a relatively minimal £1m hit.

"Our low risk approach to underwriting and conservative reinsurance programme mitigated much of our exposure to the change in the Ogden discount rate and leaves us well placed within the market compared to our peers," it said.

And the company added its conscious uncoupling with GoCompare had left both sides in a strong position.

"Since acquiring full control of Gocompare.com in early 2015 the group successfully repositioned the business... The return of Gio Compario reinvigorated Gocompare.com's marketing proposition; an expense review addressed the cost base; and focus was given to the many opportunities available to Gocompare.com to grow outside of its core markets.

"Both Esure and Gocompare.com are now positioned to thrive and reach their full potential and we wish the new management team at Gocompare.com well for the future."

What Esure said

Chief executive Stuart Vann said:

In 2016 we have delivered strong growth in premiums and profitability, and have provided more quotes to a wider number of customers through our footprint expansion programme. This gives us great confidence to deliver our ambition of 3 million in-force policies by 2020.

We continue to focus on and control carefully our approach to underwriting, underpinned by our enhanced customer contribution modelling.

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