SCOR generates solid results for the twelve months of 2008, despite a financial market environment that continues to be very challenging and a higher than average natural catastrophe year. The results mark a solid underlying operating performance in Life and Non-Life business, whilst the Group maintains a very prudent asset management policy. SCOR’s business model is based on strong business and geographical diversification, with a clear focus on traditional reinsurance, very limited exposure of reinsurance liabilities to economic activity risks and no material off balance sheet exposure.
- Net income for the full year stands at EUR 315 million, with an annual return on equity (ROE) of 9.0% and twelve months’ earnings per share (EPS) of EUR 1.76, SCOR achieves a net profit of EUR 35 million in the fourth quarter 2008.
- Top-line performance is in line with expectations, with 2008 gross written premiums standing at EUR 5,807 million, up 22.0% compared to 2007 published performance. On a pro-forma basis and at constant exchange rates, premium volume rose by 3.2%.
- Business engines are performing well: Non-Life reports a combined ratio of 98.6%, despite major natural catastrophe events such as hurricanes Ike and Gustav and snow storms in China. Life delivered a solid operating margin of 6.0%.
- Pre-tax annual synergy targets of EUR 71 million will be achieved by the end of 2009, reducing the Group’s total costs by 18% compared to 2007.
- The Group maintains a strong focus on liquidity management, with EUR 3.7 billion in cash and short-term investments and a high generation of operating cash flow (EUR 779 million).
- A defensive investment portfolio, which is nonetheless affected by asset impairments and write-downs of EUR 260 million (pre-tax). The volatility in investment income is expected to continue throughout 2009.
- Very robust shareholders’ equity of EUR 3.4 billion at 31 December 2008. Book value per share stands at EUR 19.01.
- SCOR proposes a dividend of EUR 0.80 per share for 2008, representing a payout ratio of 46%, subject to approval by the Annual General Meeting on 15 April 2009.
Denis Kessler, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of SCOR, comments: “SCOR demonstrated its strong franchise value in 2008 with solid results, despite the advent of the first genuine global financial crisis. Our traditional and cautious business approach, combined with very conservative, cash-oriented financial management, enabled us during 2008 to weather the financial storm and to continue to provide our clients with reinsurance skills and capacity. We believe that the current financial and economic crisis is reshaping the competitive landscape in a dramatic way and may offer new growth opportunities to the most competitive players. At SCOR the policy for 2009 is to maintain our prudent strategic focus and take advantage of the anti-cyclical nature of the reinsurance industry.”