Chubb Corp Earnings Call Nuggets: Reserve Trends, No Target

On Thursday, Chubb Corp (NYSE:CB) reported its first quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call. Here’s what the C-suite revealed.

Reserve Trends

Michael Zaremski – Credit Suisse: I have just a broad question that I believe $100 million of total reserve redundancies is large we have seen in many years. Could you elaborate on changes you are seeing in regards to reserve trends?

John D. Finnegan – Chairman, President and CEO: I don’t know that we have any trends. Let me say that we have been a remarkable amount of favorable developments for the past number of years. I think I have many occasions as we looked at the upcoming years profitability outlook suggested that. These were unsustainably high levels now are tended to be premature and we still ran some pretty good levels. We had a quarter few years back where we fell to almost these kind of levels but then it reverted back up again. So really now too much for declines over this past quarter. Looking forward I think it reinforces our view that 7 points of favorable development not sustainable indefinitely. At the same time I don’t believe that, that you should simply extrapolate our first quarter development levels for the rest of the year and look at development for balance of 2012. Obviously we’ll assess our position as a result of the loss experience we for remainder of the year and there is no way to project that at this time.

Michael Zaremski – Credit Suisse: Last quarter in specialty and commercial you talk about some issues on professional liability and a couple of lines there. Are any of those issues persisting in terms of higher lost cost trends?

Paul J. Krump – EVP, The Chubb Corporation and President, Commercial and Specialty Lines: I think lost cost trends in professional liability are higher than they would have been a couple of years ago in the first half of last year. First quarter the loss trends we saw were maybe in some of the lines like prime, and fidelity probably a little bit better than the fourth quarter of last year.

Michael Zaremski – Credit Suisse: So then lastly, last quarter you had combined ratio guidance of 93% to 95% for the year but would any of the results over the last quarter change that guidance.

John D. Finnegan – Chairman, President and CEO: We don’t have guidance till the end of the second quarter. We think the first quarter was a pretty good quarter overall. But we’ll take a look at it at the end of the second quarter.

No Target

Keith Walsh – Citi: First question just, looking at your retention, it seems to be holding in very well considering the rate you are getting. Can you just talk about the trend you saw in the quarter by month of how rate came into the book, and I’ve got a follow-up? Thanks.

John D. Finnegan – Chairman, President and CEO: Well, I think that the rate, they stand in commercial incrementally improved over the quarter. But I don’t know if you can read a lot into improvement from 6 to 7 to 8. I mean, they are rounding over in some cases, but the end of March, and March was a better month than January, and I think in professional liability, certainly that was true too.

Keith Walsh – Citi: Then Ricky, just thinking about the written, to surplus, you are writing well below 1 to 1. What’s the optimal level that you think about with your franchise and assuming your current business mix?

Richard G. Spiro – CFO: We don’ really have a target, Keith that we are shooting for. We are comfortable where we are now. We think we have very strong capital base. We think we have strong excess capital position. So we think we are ready to – we can take advantage of a growing market. We have capital to return to shareholders through our capital management program, but we don’t really think about it as targeted premium surplus ratio.

Keith Walsh – Citi: Well, maybe asking in different way, how high could you go with that ratio. Would you feel comfortable with the current mix of business?

Richard G. Spiro – CFO: Same way, we don’t – I’m not going to tell you we have a target. I’m not going to give you a number how comfortable we can go.