Thursday 7 November 2019 9:41 am

RSA shares up on underwriting profit boost

Shares in insurer RSA rose today after it announced underwriting profit had grown in the first nine months of the year.

The FTSE 100 company said operating profit rose in the first nine months of the year, but did not publish third quarter numbers.

RSA’s shares rose 3.3 per cent to 550p this morning.

Read more: Insurer RSA hails ‘solid’ first-half as it tries to get underwriting back on track

It said net written premiums of £4.8bn were flat overall versus the same period last year.

The company said weather, large loss, attritional loss and controllable expense ratios all improved.

Chief executive Stephen Hester said: “RSA’s results to end September are strong, and consistent with our plans for the period. Current year underwriting results have sharply improved, with all our regional businesses contributing.  There is lots more to do – not least to finish 2019 well, with momentum into next year.”

Weather costs were 2.6 per cent of net earned premiums, compared to 4.7 per cent at the same stage last year.

Read more: RSA UK chief executive out after poor financial performance

The large loss ratio was 9.6 per cent compared to 11.2 per cent at the same stage in 2018.

Nicholas Hyett, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “The defining feature of Stephen Hester’s time at RSA has been the focus on doing the basics well. This quarter is no exception, with the group delivering underwriting discipline after exiting some markets, and good cost control. 

“That’s a solid start, and might be the best option in a very competitive market – better to write fewer profitable contracts than more unprofitable ones – but ultimately RSA needs to get total premiums moving forwards. That’s part of the equation that doesn’t seem to have been cracked yet. Cost savings can only boost profits for so long, eventually you need to start attracting a growing customer base.”