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SAMPO PLC INTERIM STATEMENT 4 May 2022 at 9:35 am
Sampo Group’s results for January–March 2022
Group P&C premiums grew by 7 per cent, supported by strong development in If P&C and Hastings.
The Group combined ratio increased to 83.5 per cent (81.2), driven mainly by lower COVID-19 effects. Underlying margin development in If remained positive.
Underwriting profit amounted to EUR 290 million (317). Excluding COVID-19 effects reported in the first quarter of 2021, underwriting profit increased 4 per cent.
Profit before taxes declined to EUR 566 million (632), while earnings per share increased to EUR 0.86 (0.82).
Group Solvency II coverage including dividend accrual increased to 200 per cent (185), above the 170-190 per cent target, supported by a 6 percentage point benefit from higher interest rates.
A new EUR 250 million share buyback programme was launched in March 2022, following the completion of the previous EUR 750 million programme.
Profit before taxes
Profit for the period
Earnings per share, EUR
EPS (based on OCI) EUR
The figures in this report have not been audited.
Sampo Group financial targets for 2021-2023
Mid-single digit UW profit growth annually on average (excluding COVID-19 effects)
-8% (4% excluding reported COVID-19 effects in Q1/2021)
204% (200% including dividend accrual)
Financial leverage: below 30%
24.8% (29.0% including dividend and buybacks)
Combined ratio: below 85%
Operating ratio: below 88%
Loss ratio: below 76%
Financial targets for 2021-2023 announced at the Capital Markets Day on 24 February 2021
First quarter effects related to the COVID-19 pandemic have been well below those observed in 2021; hence, these will not be reported separately. For further information, please see “Other developments”
FINANCIAL HIGHLIGHTS FOR JANUARY-MARCH 2022
Sampo Group’s core business, P&C insurance, reported an underwriting profit of EUR 290 million (317) in January-March 2022. Excluding COVID-19 effects reported in the first quarter of 2021, underwriting profit grew 4 per cent. The Group combined ratio increased by 2.3 percentage points to 83.5 per cent (81.2), driven mainly by the economic activity returning back to normal levels as COVID-19 restrictions were lifted during the quarter. Excluding the COVID-19 effects reported in If and Topdanmark in the first quarter of 2021, the combined ratio improved by 0.1 percentage points from 83.6 per cent a year ago. Gross written premiums increased by 7 per cent to EUR 2,833 million, supported by strong renewals and high retention. Sampo targets mid-single digit per cent underwriting profit growth on average and a combined ratio below 86 per cent for 2021-2023.
If P&C continued its strong performance and achieved an underwriting profit of EUR 234 million (213), representing a year-on-year growth of 10 per cent. The growth was driven by 0.7 percentage points improvement in the combined ratio to 80.8 per cent (81.5) and a strong 6.9 per cent currency adjusted premium growth. Premiums grew in all Business Areas and markets, supported by strong 1 January renewals with rate increases, high retention and an increase in customer count. If’s adjusted risk ratio improved by 0.7 percentage points year-on-year. Effects related to the COVID-19 pandemic were well below those observed in 2021 and have therefore not been quantified. Profit before taxes increased to EUR 283 million (257).
Topdanmark’s profit before taxes decreased to EUR 37 million (137) in Sampo Group’s profit and loss account. The combined ratio was 87.8 per cent (84.7).
Hastings’ performance in the first quarter was affected by challenging UK motor insurance market, with competitive pricing and elevated claims inflation. Hastings has taken a disciplined approach to pricing, leading to rate driven currency adjusted premium growth of 10 per cent and broadly stable policy count from year-end. Home insurance policies grew by 18 per cent year-on-year. The operating ratio increased to 92.5 per cent (75.1), mainly as a result of a reduction in COVID-19 effects. Hastings profit before taxes excluding non-operational depreciation and amortisation amounted to EUR 17 million (56) and reported profit before taxes stood at EUR 2 million (46).
Mandatum segment’s profit before taxes for January-March 2022 increased to EUR 80 million (76). Despite the uncertain market situation, Mandatum’s unit-linked and other client assets under management remained near record high levels at EUR 10.9 billion (11.1), as net flows partly offset adverse market developments. Mandatum Life’s Solvency II ratio increased to 216 per cent (190), as weak mark-to-market investment results were more than offset by increasing interest rates and a decrease in the symmetric adjustment.
Holding segment’s profit before taxes increased to EUR 164 million (115), including a dividend of EUR 157 million from Nordea and a gain of EUR 28 million from the sale of 19 million Nordea shares in the open market. During April 2022, Sampo completed the exit from Nordea and stated that management will propose that a new share buyback programme is launched after the Annual General Meeting on 18 May 2022, subject to the AGM renewing the Board authorisation on share repurchases.
The share buyback programme of EUR 750 million launched on October 2021 was completed on 25 March 2022. In total, Sampo repurchased 17.1 million own shares, corresponding to 3.1 per cent of all shares. The repurchased shares were cancelled on 31 March 2022. On 30 March 2022, Sampo launched a new buyback programme of up to EUR 250 million.
Sampo Group’s Solvency II ratio increased to 200 per cent (185) over the quarter, net of dividend accrual based on the 2021 insurance dividend of EUR 1.70 per share and the new buyback programme of EUR 250 million. The improvement of 15 percentage points from year-end 2021 was mainly driven by rising interest rates and a decline in the symmetric adjustment. Sampo targets a solvency ratio of 170-190 per cent. The sale of Sampo's remaining Nordea shares in April is expected to add approximately 30 percentage points to the group solvency ratio.
Sampo Group’s financial leverage increased to 24.8 per cent from 23.8 per cent at the end of 2021, driven by a decrease in equity. Adjusted for the proposed dividend and ongoing buyback programme, the financial leverage amounted to 29.0 per cent (27.9). Sampo targets a financial leverage below 30 per cent.
Sampo plc’s Annual General Meeting will be held on 18 May 2022. The Board has proposed on 9 February 2022 to the AGM a dividend of EUR 4.10 per share, of which the insurance dividend is EUR 1.70 per share.
GROUP CEO’S COMMENT
Sampo’s first quarter performance proved resilient to the increase in economic and geopolitical uncertainty observed during the year, most notably in relation to the tragic and unjustified war in Ukraine. We have achieved excellent P&C underwriting results and our balance sheet remains solid, allowing the launch of a new buyback programme. In addition, we continued to execute on our strategic agenda by completing the exit from Nordea during April.
Taking a closer look at P&C insurance, our largest operation, If P&C, delivered an excellent quarter. Premium growth stood at 7 per cent year-on-year even though new car sales declined by around 20 per cent across the Nordic region. Underlying margins were also robust, with a record-strong combined ratio of 80.8 per cent despite above-expected large losses and loss frequencies returning close to normal levels after pandemic related restrictions ended.
The rise in energy and commodity prices triggered by the war in Ukraine has increased uncertainty over the trajectory of inflation, both in terms of broader consumer prices and with regard to the cost of insurance claims. We have continued to observe claims inflation at around three per cent in the Nordic region during 2022, broadly at the same level as at the end of 2021, helped by our multi-year procurement agreements. Nonetheless, given the eternal external environment we see potential upside risk to this figure as we progress through the year. Hence, we are pricing on the basis of prudent assumptions and working closely with customers to ensure that the right coverage is in place. Premium growth and retention have both been excellent across all If P&C’s business areas in the first quarter, which gives me confidence in our ability to navigate the operating environment.
The interaction between Hastings and If P&C is intensifying; I see significant cultural overlap between the two organisations that will create value over time. In the first quarter, conditions in the UK motor market have been challenging, with elevated claims inflation putting pressure on underwriting margins. Hastings has remained disciplined in its pricing, increasing rates to cover rising claims costs, which has supported premium growth of 10 per cent. Meanwhile, the home insurance book has made excellent progress as policy count grew by 18 per cent year-on-year.
Capital markets were volatile in the first quarter. Higher interest rates are having a positive economic effect on our business through increased reinvestment rates and lower liability values. Due to the short duration of our fixed income portfolio, we are relatively well positioned to rotate into higher yielding instruments. On the downside, wider credit spreads and a decline in equity markets had a negative impact on investment return in the first quarter.
Sampo’s balance sheet has been resilient to the increase in uncertainty, as both capital and financial leverage have remained at or above target levels. Hence, we were able to launch a new EUR 250 million share buyback programme shortly after completing the EUR 750 million programme launched last year.
On 29 April, Sampo reached a key milestone in its strategy by completing the exit from Nordea, thus becoming a pure insurance group. With a clearer focus for both management and shareholders, I am confident that we have a robust foundation for even stronger operational and value creation. The exit from Nordea also further increases the Group’s resilience by reducing our exposure to market risk. Following the sale, management intends to propose to the Board that a new share buyback programme is launched after the Annual General Meeting on 18 May 2022.
Looking to the rest of the year, I am optimistic about the performance of our excellent P&C operations and remain committed to our P&C insurance focused strategy.
Group CEO and President
Outlook for 2022
Sampo Group’s P&C insurance operations are expected to achieve underwriting margins that meet the annual targets set for 2021-2023. At Group level, Sampo targets a combined ratio of below 86 per cent, while the target for its largest subsidiary, If P&C, is below 85 per cent. Hastings targets an operating ratio of below 88 per cent. Following strong performance in the first quarter, the outlook for If P&C’s 2022 combined ratio has been improved to 82–84 per cent.
The combined and operating ratios of Sampo Group’s P&C insurance operations are subject to volatility driven by, among other factors, seasonal weather patterns, large claims, prior year development and fluctuations in claims frequency related to the COVID-19 pandemic. These effects are particularly relevant for individual segments and business areas, such as the Danish and UK operations.
The mark-to-market component of investment returns will be significantly influenced by capital markets’ developments, particularly in life insurance.
With regard to Topdanmark, reference is made to the profit forecast model that the company publishes on a quarterly basis.
The major risks and uncertainties for the Group in the near-term
In its current day-to-day business activities Sampo Group is exposed to various risks and uncertainties, mainly through its major business units.
Major risks affecting the Group companies’ profitability and its variation are market, credit, insurance and operational risks. At the Group level, sources of risks are the same, although they are not directly additive due to the effects of diversification.
Uncertainties in the form of major unforeseen events may have an immediate impact on the Group’s profitability. The identification of unforeseen events is easier than the estimation of their probabilities, timing, and potential outcomes. After the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic a combination of fiscal and monetary stimulus, supply chain problems and elevated demand for consumer goods have led to high levels of inflation, with energy and product prices being particularly affected. More recently the war in Ukraine has created a new negative supply shock for the global economy depressing economic growth and further pushing up the prices of commodities and energy. The pandemic and the war in Ukraine are consequently currently causing significant uncertainties on economic and capital market development. There are also a number of widely identified macroeconomic, political and other sources of uncertainty which can, in various ways, affect the financial services industry in a negative manner.
Other sources of uncertainty are unforeseen structural changes in the business environment and already identified trends and potential wide-impact events. These external drivers may have a long-term impact on how Sampo Group’s business will be conducted. Examples of identified trends are demographic changes, sustainability issues, and technological developments in areas such as artificial intelligence and digitalisation including threats posed by cybercrime.
On 9 February 2022, the Sampo Board proposed to the Annual General Meeting that a dividend of EUR 4.10 per share for the 2021 financial year. The dividend is proposed to be paid to the shareholders registered in the Register of Shareholders held by Euroclear Finland Oy as at the record date of 20 May 2022. The Board proposes that the dividends be paid on 31 May 2022. The full dividend proposal is available on www.sampo.com/agm.
Effects of external events on Sampo Group
The first quarter saw an increase in geopolitical uncertainty as Russia launched an invasion into neighbouring Ukraine. The Group has limited insurance exposures in the affected region through certain Nordic industrial lines clients and coverage is subject to war exclusions. On the asset side, Sampo has no material direct investments in Russia or Ukraine.
Given the limited direct exposure, the biggest risk from the war in Ukraine to Sampo relates to second order capital markets and macroeconomic effects. The Group carries substantial market risk exposures via its strategic investments and through insurance company investment portfolios and liabilities, which may be adversely affected by market shocks. This risk taking is supported by financial buffers calibrated to withstand volatility, and Sampo operated above its target financial strength levels at the end of the first quarter of 2022.
Macroeconomic effects could also have an impact on Sampo’s operational business, for example by reducing economic growth, aggravating supply chain problems and inflating commodity prices. These considerations are particularly relevant as supply chain disruption and high inflation had already become established prior to the invasion following the COVID-19 pandemic and associated monetary and fiscal stimulus programmes.
In the Nordic and Baltic countries, COVID-19 effects in the quarter were materially below the levels observed over 2021. Motor claims frequencies were affected by pandemic-related restrictions in the first part of the quarter but later returned toward pre-pandemic levels. In the UK, motor claims frequencies have increased as restrictions were lifted but remain below pre-COVID-19 levels. Given the limited impact of COVID-19 and the increasing difficulty in reliably estimating associated effects, Sampo has decided not to provide any quantitative disclosure of COVID-19 effects in the first quarter.
EVENTS AFTER THE END OF THE REPORTING PERIOD
Share buyback programme
Sampo’s share buyback programme announced on 30 March 2022 continued after the end of the reporting period. By Friday 29 April 2022 market close, the company had bought in total 2,851,150 Sampo A shares representing 0.53 per cent of the total number of shares in Sampo plc. The progress of the buyback programme can be followed on www.sampo.com/releases.
Disposals of Nordea shares
Sampo sold all of its remaining Nordea holding in April, after the end of the reporting period, through an accelerated bookbuild offering of 200 million shares on 29 April and the sale of 26 million shares in the open market. The transactions generated total gross proceeds of EUR 2.1 billion and will have a positive accounting effect of approximately EUR 82 million on Sampo’s consolidated statement of profit and loss.
In connection with disclosing the results of the bookbuild offering, Sampo disclosed that management intends to propose to the Board that a new share buyback programme is launched after the Annual General Meeting on 18 May 2022, subject to the AGM renewing the Board authorisation on share repurchases.
Board of Directors
For more information, please contact
Knut Arne Alsaker, Group CFO, tel. +358 10 516 0010
Sami Taipalus, Head of Investor Relations, tel. +358 10 516 0030
Maria Silander, Communications Manager, Media Relations, tel. +358 10 516 0031
An English-language conference call for investors and analysts will be arranged at 4 pm Finnish time (2 pm UK time). Please call tel. +1 631 913 1422, +44 33 3300 0804, +46 8 5664 2651, or +358 9 8171 0310.
The conference passcode is 95293335#
The conference call can also be followed live at www.sampo.com/result. A recorded version will later be available at the same address.
In addition, the Investor Presentation is available at www.sampo.com/result.
Sampo will publish the Half-Year Financial Report on 3 August 2022.
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