(Hamilton, Bermuda, June 27, 2016) – Argus Group Holdings Limited (the “Group” or the “Argus Group”) today announced net earnings to shareholders of $7.3 million for the year ended March 31, 2016.
- Strong underlying earnings from business operations of $15.3 million
- Shareholders’ Equity increased to $122.6 million
- Interim dividend increased to nine cents per share
Included within the net earnings figure are unrealised investment losses of $8.0 million, which are driven by short-term volatility in global investment markets, and as such, are not reflective of longer-term expectations for investment returns. Underlying earnings from business operations remain strong with net earnings of $15.3 million before unrealised investment losses.
Shareholders’ equity has increased to $122.6 million and remains well in excess of the capital level required by regulators to support the insurance and investment activities of the Group. This strong capital position together with the underlying earnings strength of the Group has allowed the Board to increase the interim dividend to nine cents per share. This dividend will be paid on August 4, 2016 to shareholders of record on July 11, 2016.
Alison Hill, Chief Executive Officer of the Argus Group, comments: “The long-term financial strength of our operations is underpinned by our three strategic pillars of growth, advocacy and innovation.”
“We’ve cemented our position as leading advocates for health through the continued roll-out of our wellness programme: Thrive. We’ve rolled out an exciting new platform of pension fund options, which has served to meet the needs of our clients and give us a competitive edge within the market place. We believe that these investments in our business infrastructure, which support the physical and financial health of our customers, is core to generating long-term sustainable shareholder value.
“Our overseas growth strategy has gained considerable momentum with the successful integration of the Millennium Insurance Agency business and the recently announced acquisition of Island Insurance Brokers Limited in Malta.”
“Our financial results were positively impacted by our strategic focus, which led to strong sales and high client retention during the year. Our ability to retain and acquire new clients in a competitive and complex regulatory market is testament to the strength of our people and our operations. These actions have had a positive impact on our Net Premiums Earned of $139.2 million, an increase of one percent when compared with the prior year.”
Net Benefits and Claims increased by $9.0 million to $109.6 million primarily due to health claims returning to a more normal level after the unusually low claims incurred in the prior year. Argus is concerned about the continued rising cost of healthcare and the company’s investment in health and wellness programmes demonstrates a commitment to support a sustainable healthcare system. The Group recently launched our Nurse Case Management programme which is aimed at assisting those with high health risks, typically due to chronic complex health conditions.
The Group’s financial results include investment income of $1.5 million compared with $14.8 million in the prior year. The reduction in reported investment income has been driven by unrealised losses of $8.0 million, whereas in the year ended March 31, 2015, investment income was boosted by unrealized gains of $3.2 million. These unrealised investment losses primarily relate to high quality bonds and are therefore expected to reverse over the remaining life of the bonds. The Group’s portfolio consists of assets that generate appropriate long-term yields that are well matched to the liabilities that they are backing. The Group’s fixed income holding is the largest of the investment portfolio and is inherently sensitive to market movements in interest rates and credit spreads.
Alison Hill comments: “The Group’s investment portfolio is well positioned to deliver on our policyholder commitments and deliver appropriate long-term yields. While some investment income volatility is inherent, we are taking steps to reduce the income volatility and allow the underlying strength of the business to shine through.”