3 Key Takeaways From the AIG Earnings Report

3 Key Takeaways From the AIG Earnings Report

Since the financial crisis, American International Group has been restructuring, rebuilding, and reimagining itself to gain back not only customer confidence, but also investor confidence. As a leaner, more focused insurance company, AIG has been beating most analyst estimates for the past few quarters -- and the second quarter of 2013 was no different. From its earnings report, investors can take away three solid things that will drive the insurance behemoth forward.

1. Growth
Investors have been increasingly focused on growth in the market as the economy continues its trudge forward in the recovery. For AIG investors, the second-quarter earnings report will be well received since the firm noted growth in all segments of its operations.

For Property and Casualty, AIG was on fire during the second quarter, with net premiums written growth in each segment of its operations. Consumer insurance benefited from both a 3.6% increase in net premiums written, as well as a 3.8% increase in rates. Likewise, consumer insurance reported a 4.7% increase in premiums written, boosted by a 5% increase in direct marketing initiatives. Net investment income grew by 14% for the quarter as alternative investments provided big returns in the low interest rate environment.

AIG's Life and Retirement operations were also going gangbusters during the second quarter, with a drive to increase account values leading to a 10% increase in assets under management and a 34% increase in fee income generation. Both variable annuities and mutual funds drove higher sales for the L&R segment, with individual variable annuities sales reaching the $2.2 billion mark for the quarter. As with the P&C operations, alternative investments provided the necessary boost to keep investment income up, with total investment income gaining 5% compared to the previous year's quarter.

Most notable in the growth category, however, is the company's return to the mortgage guaranty business. Though the operations have been performing well for the past few quarters, second-quarter results were impressive -- despite favorable settlements, commutations, and reserve releases bolstering the segment's operating income. New insurance written on first-lien loans totaled $13.8 billion for the quarter, a 62% increase from 2012's comparable quarter. And keeping in line with the company's overall goal of risk management, the new business had an average FICO score of 755 and an average loan-to-value of 92%.

2. Active management
Not to say that any other company's management team is sitting on their laurels, but AIG's management has been working long and hard each quarter to make sure operations are running smoothly for the current environment.

With low interest rates working against the typical insurance company's investment portfolio, AIG's management relied on alternative investments during the past few quarters, allowing them to capitalize on current rates. The plan has given the company a 13.6% increase in net investment income for its P&C division and a 4.6% increase for its L&R operations, with yields of 4.11% and 5.83%, respectively. In comparison to Traveler's Companies , which reported earnings last week, and Allstate , which reported last night as well, AIG's reported yield tops the rivals' total yields of 3.2% and 1.5%, respectively. Allstate had noted last quarter that it was taking a dramatic step to realign its investment strategy toward cash-generating investments, with the caveat that it may be forfeiting investment income in the future.

Not only has AIG managed its investment strategy to great effect, but its drive to grow its core insurance business has paid off in spades, as noted in the paragraphs above.

The last big item of note is the company's capital management. For the past two quarters, CEO Robert Benmosche has stated that reducing AIG's debt was a central goal for the firm, and that any capital disbursement would hinge upon that goal. During the second quarter alone, AIG reduced its debt burden by $931 million. Since year-end 2012, the insurer has reduced its overall debt by 12.1% -- which brings us to...

3. Shareholder value
With its earnings report, AIG announced the reinstatement of a cash dividend and plans for a share repurchase. Though it doesn't quite come close to the newly announced Allstate dividend of $0.25 per share, AIG investors should be happy with the declared $0.10 per share dividend. With $1 billion in share repurchases authorized, there's plenty of value being returned to them.

Of course, shareholder value extends beyond just a dividend and share buyback plan. AIG reported an improvement in its return on equity from 9% in Q2 2012 to 11.1% this quarter. And its book value has continued to rise, with a new per share value of $61.25 -- up 10.8% from last year's second-quarter book value of $55.30 per share. As of last night's close, this presents an 30% upside for new investors.

Plenty more where that came from
With management focused on the long-term success of AIG, shareholders should feel confident that strong quarterly results like these will keep coming from the insurer down the line. Although there are plenty of new challenges ahead, a steady focus on what's best for the company, as well as proven growth drivers, will continue to provide meaningful value for investors.{%sfr%

The article 3 Key Takeaways From the AIG Earnings Report originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributor Jessica Alling has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends American International Group. The Motley Fool owns shares of American International Group and has the following options: long January 2014 $25 calls on American International Group. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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