Hardy profits slip 70%, Catlin's fall 64%, while Novae swings into profit

The first-half 2010 results reported by Lloyd’s insurers last week were a mixed bag, reflecting the varying business models in the market.

• Hardy Underwriting appeared to come off worst. The company’s after-tax profit for the first half of the year slipped 70% to £1.97m from £6.54m, and its combined ratio increased 30.3 points to 101.7% from 71.4%, as losses from the Chile earthquake and Australian hailstorms hit. Chief executive Barbara Merry said that her company’s results differed from other Lloyd’s insurers because of its business mix. She said 70% of the book was international risks and 30% was US business. “There are some international territories where we are overweight,” she said. “Because our account doesn’t track the market, we end up with losses when other people don’t have them, and vice versa.”

• Catlin experienced a milder 64% decline in profits to $79m (£49.5m) from $218m in the same period last year. Catlin’s results were hit by losses from the Chile earthquake and the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and spill. But the results were also affected by a $49m foreign exchange loss.

• Novae appears to have the best first half. It swung to a profit of £10.8m compared with a loss of £10.5m in the first half of 2009. The company’s combined ratio fell to 100.8% from 110.5%. “The first half of last year was poor because a couple of our classes were unlucky, ” it said. Aviation was affected, with the company picking up losses from the crash of Air France flight 447.

• Groupama’s chief executive François-Xavier Boisseau has lamented the return of the “bad old days” in commercial motor as his firm’s commercial lines revenue dipped slightly to £57.5m from £57.9m. The company said profitability remained strong in the commercial division but mainly because of reserve releases from prior years.

Click here to read more insurer results in this week's financial news.