Tag Archives: book value

STOXX600 versus S&P500

There is a nice article over at the Philosophical Economics blog from last month on the dangers of using the Shiller CAPE when the constituents of the underlying indices are constantly evolving. I particularly like the Ship of Theseus thesis being updated by the case of the 1970s group the Little River Band! As always with the Philosophical Economics blog, the post is well worth a read and provides some interesting food for thought in the on-going CAPE debate. I also largely agree with the author’s analysis on Europe and the assertion that monetary union “is going to have to eventually dissolve, or at least undergo a substantial makeover”.

In the post, the author references an April 2013 report from KPMG’s Global Valuation Institute on why more European firms traded below their book value following the financial crisis than US firms. One exhibit, produced below, shows that European firms in the STOXX600 recorded less impairments than S&P500 firms through the crisis. This highlights the sources of the impairments and the differing accounting standards at play.

click to enlargeSTOXX600 vrs S&P500 Impairments

Another exhibit from the report illustrates the different sectors that make up the STOXX600 and S&P500 and the percentage of each sector that traded below book value in early 2013. It would be really interesting to see an update of this exhibit.

click to enlargeSTOXX600 vrs S&P500

Trick or treat: AIG Q3 Follow Up

Well, I’d put AIG’s Q3 results firmly in the trick basket. The big surprise for me was the nearly $1 billion income tax benefit item in Q3. I wasn’t expecting that.

Income before tax was distinctly lacklustre. The P&C technical result was only marginally worse whilst P&C investment income added just over $1 billion of incremental income before tax. Life & retirement only added $400 million of incremental delivered income before tax. The hodgepodge of the other segment had a negative impact of over $1 billion of incremental income before tax due to the marginal increases in GCM and DIB lagging interest, corporate & legal expenses. Updated graphs for net income and the other segment for YTD to Q3 are below.

click to enlargeAIG Net Income Breakdown Q3 2013click to enlargeAIG Other Segment Q3 2013

Overall then, I wouldn’t materially change my estimates for a “normal” 2014 (although I may need to reconsider my tax assumptions) and would stick to a book value target of $70 by year end 2014 as being achievable, save any large catastrophes or unexploded bombs. One small treat from the results was the reduction in share count which should continue.

Although the risk/reward is getting more attractive after the price drop to just above $48, I will stay on the side-line as the overall market looks very frothy to me and, as a result, I am currently in risk reduction mode. The uncertainty around the other segment and the lack of clear improvement in the P&C segment may justify the AIG book multiple discount for a while yet.

Factors impacting AIG’s valuation

AIG stock has been the subject of much investor attention in recent times and has doubled over the past 24 months. The new AIG has become a hedge fund favourite, the 3rd most popular stock according to Goldman Sachs. I did briefly look over AIG at the end of 2010 when it traded around $35 but concluded there was too much uncertainty around its restructuring and I particularly didn’t like the P&C reserve deteriorations in 2009 and 2010. The stock fell below $25 in 2011 before reversing and beginning its recent accent above $45 as further clarity on its business performance emerged. I figured now is a good time to give the new AIG another look.

Unless you have been living on Mars, everybody is aware that AIG has had a very colourful history and, although it’s past is not the focus of this post, the graph below of the 10 year history of the stock is a reminder of the grim fate suffered by its equity holders with the current price still only about 5% of the pre-crash average. For what it is worth, the 2005 Fortune article “All I want in life is an unfair advantage” and the 2009 Vanity Fair article “The Man Who Crashed the World” by Michael Lewis are two of my favourites on the subject and worth a read.

click to enlargeAIG 10 year stock price

To understand the new AIG we need to review the current balance sheet and the breakdown of the sources of net income since 2010. The balance sheet (excluding segregated assets & liabilities) as at Q2 2013 is represented in the exhibit below.

click to enlargeAIG Balance Sheet & Assets

AIG’s liquid assets look reasonably diverse and creditworthy although these assets should really be looked at in their respective business units. The P&C assets are the more conservative and look in line with their peers. The life and retirement assets are riskier and reflect the underling product mix and risk profile of that business.

Another item to note is the $31.2 billion of aircraft leasing assets from ILFC against the $26.5 billion of liabilities representing $4.7 billion of net assets. AIG’s deal to sell 80% of ILFC to a Chinese consortium for book value looks like it may fall apart. If it does, the possibility of going down the IPO route is now a realistic option, absent a change in current market conditions.

The next item to note is the other assets representing 13% of total assets. These are primarily made up of $20 billion of deferred taxes, $9 billion of DAC, $14 billion of premium receivables, and $15 billion of various assets. This last item includes $2.8 billion of fair value derivative assets which correspond to $3.1 billion of fair value derivative liabilities. The notional value of these assets and liabilities is approximately $90 billion and $110 billion respectively from primarily interest rate contracts but also FX, equity, commodity and credit derivatives that are not designated for hedging purposes. The majority (about 2/3rd) of these are from the Global Capital Markets division which includes the run-off of the infamous AIG Financial Products (AIGFP) unit.

AIG’s non-life reserves, at $108 billion, have been a source of volatility in the past with significant strengthening required in 2002, 2004, 2005, 2009 and 2010. The life and retirement reserves are split $121 billion of policyholder contracts (including guaranteed variable annuity products like GMWB), $5 billion of other policyholder funds, and $40 billion of mortality and morbidity reserves.

A breakdown of AIG’s net income since 2010 shows the sources of profit and losses as per the graph below.

click to enlargeAIG Net Income Breakdown 2010 to Q22013

The graph shows that the impact of discontinued operations has been playing less of a part in the net income line. It also points to the need to understand the importance of the other business category in 2011 and 2012 as well as the relative underperformance in the P&C division in contributing to net income for 2010 to 2012.

In 2011, contributors to other pre-tax income included a $1.7 billion impairment charge on ILFC’s fleet and a net $2.9 billion charge due to the termination of the New York Fed credit facility. 2012 net income included a $0.8 billion gain on the sale of AIA shares and an increase of $2.9 billion in the fair value of AIG’s interest in Maiden Lane III (the vehicle created during the AIG bailout for AIGFP’s CDO credit default swap portfolio). These 2012 gains were partially offset by an increase of $0.8 billion in litigation reserves.

AIG bulls point to the 2013 YTD performance. Improved operating margins in the core P&C and life/retirement units have combined with income from the other activities (mortgage business, Global Capital Markets & Direct Investment portfolios) covering corporate and interest expenses and any other one off charges (such as those in the paragraph above). This performance has led analysts to predict 2013 EPS around $4.20 and 2014 EPS of $4.30 to $4.50.

AIG has traded at a significant discount to its peers on a book value basis as a result of its troubled past and currently trades at 0.73. The graphs below uses recently published book values and book value excluding Accumulated Other Comprehensive Income (AOCI) which have been the subject to adjustment and reinstatement and may not therefore reflect the book values published at the time.

click to enlargeAIG stock price to book values 2009 to August 2013

AIG Book Value Multiples 2009 to August 2013

In summary, the factors impacting the current AIG valuation are the significant book value discount as a result of AIG’s history, the uncertainty around the ILFC sale, the future prospects of the core P&C and life/retirement units, and the historical volatility in the other operating business lines (and the potential for future volatility!). Each of these items need to be understood further before any conclusions can be reached on whether AIG is currently undervalued or overvalued. In a follow-on post on AIG I will try to dig deeper into each of these factors and also offer my thoughts on future performance and valuation of the new AIG.

Relative valuations of selected reinsurers and wholesale insurers

It’s been a great 12 months for wholesale insurers with most seeing their share price rise by 20%+, some over 40%. As would be expected, there has been some correlation between the rise in book values and the share price increase although market sentiment to the sector and the overall market rally have undoubtedly also played their parts. The graph below shows the movements over the past 12 months (click to enlarge).

12 month share price change selected reinsurers March 2013The price to tangible book is one of my preferred indicators of value although it has limitations when comparing companies reporting under differing accounting standards & currencies and trading in different exchanges. The P/TBV valuations as at last weekend are depicted in the graph below. The comments in this post are purely made on the basis of the P/TBV metric calculated from published data and readers are encouraged to dig deeper.

I tend to look at the companies relative to each other in 4 broad buckets – the London market firms, the continental European composite reinsurers, the US/Bermuda firms, and the alternative asset or “wannabe buffet” firms.  Comparisons across buckets can be made but adjustments need to be made for factors such as those outlined in the previous paragraph. Some firms such as Lancashire actually report in US$ as that is where the majority of their business is but trade in London with sterling shares. I also like to look at the relative historical movements over time & the other graph below from March 2011 helps in that regard.

Valuations as at March 2013 (click to enlarge):

Price to net tangible book & 5 year average ROE reinsurers March 2013

Valuations as at March 2011 (click to enlarge):

Price to net tangible book & 5 year average ROE reinsurers March 2011 The London market historically trades at the highest multiples – Hiscox, Amlin, & Lancashire are amongst the leaders, with Catlin been the poor cousin. Catlin’s 2012 operating results were not as strong as the others but the discount it currently trades at may be a tad unfair. In the interest of open disclosure, I must admit to having a soft spot for Lancashire. Their consistent shareholder friendly actions result in the high historical valuation. These actions and a clear communication of their straight forward business strategy shouldn’t distract investors from their high risk profile. The cheeky way they present their occurrence PMLs in public disclosures cannot hide their high CAT exposures when the occurrence PMLs are compared to their peers on a % of tangible asset basis. Their current position relative to Hiscox and Amlin may be reflective of this (although they tend to go down when ex dividend, usually a special dividend!).

Within the continental European composite reinsurer bucket, the Munich and Swiss, amongst others, classify chunky amounts of present value of future profits from their life business as an intangible. As this item will be treated as capital under Solvency II, further metrics need to be considered when looking at these composite reinsurers. The love of the continental Europeans of hybrid capital and the ability to compare the characteristics of the varying instruments is another factor that will become clearer in a Solvency II world. Compared to 2011 valuations Swiss Re has been a clear winner. It is arguable that the Munich deserves a premium given it’s position in the sector.

The striking thing about the current valuations of the US/Bermudian bucket is how concentrated they are, particularly when compared to 2011. The market seems to be making little distinction between the large reinsurers like Everest and the likes of Platinum & Montpelier. That is surely a failure of these companies to distinguish themselves and effectively communicate their differing business models & risk profiles.

The last bucket is the most eccentric. I would class firms such as Fairfax  in this bucket. Although each firm has its own twist, generally these companies are interested in the insurance business as the provider of cheap “float”, a la Mr Buffet, with the focus going into the asset side. Generally, their operating results are poorer than their peers and they have a liking for the longer tail business if the smell of the float is attractive enough (which is difficult with today’s interest rate). This bucket really needs to be viewed through different metrics which we’ll leave for another day.

Overall then, the current valuations reflect an improved sentiment on the sector. Notwithstanding the musings above, nothing earth shattering stands out based solely on a P/TBV analysis.  The ridiculously low valuations of the past 36 months aren’t there anymore. My enthusiasm for the sector is tempered by the macro-economic headwinds, the overall run-up in the market (a pull-back smells inevitable), and the unknown impact upon the sector of the current supply distortions from yield seeking capital market players entering the market.