Lloyd's global results mask a chasm between the performance of individual syndicates, according to Moody's Investors Service.

The ratings agency commented on Lloyd's 1998 results and 1999 forecasts, and said the difference between the best and worst performing syndicates ranged from 166% to 132% of capacity. This equates to a difference of between 332% and 264% on capital for 1998 and 1999 respectively.

As a result of these disparities, Lloyd's is introducing a standards raising programme with the aim of preventing serious losses. But Moody's believes that it is “open to question whether this aim can ever be achieved”.

“Foreseeing losses is difficult without demonstrable track records and Lloyd's is recognised for its innovation,” said Robert Smith, senior analyst at Moody's and author of the report. “Certain syndicates have demonstrated the ability to trade profitably through the worst periods of the current cycle.

“A previously good track record is not necessarily a guarantee of above average performance in the downturn, with many syndicates in the bottom quartile for 1998 and 1999 having had reasonable track records.”