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Optimum General back in the black on strong Q2 2003


August 19, 2003   by Canadian Underwriter


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As of June 30, 2003, Montreal-based Optimum General Inc. (TSX: OGI.A) is out of the red, posting net income of $492,000, or $0.04 per share for the first half of this year. This is a vast improvement over the loss of $2.0 million, or $0.18 per share, reported in the first half of 2002.
The improvement came in the second quarter of the year, with a net income of $783,000, or $0.07 per share, versus a net loss of $2.3 million, or $0.21 per share, in second-quarter 2002.
The growth came despite a drop in gross written premiums to $38.0 million in the second quarter 2003 (Q2 2002: $41.9 million). Net earned premiums were also down for the quarter, to $22.7 million (Q2 2002: $23.6 million).
In the first half of this year, gross written premiums were down to $67.6 million (2002: $73.5 million) but net earned premiums were up slightly to $47.9 million (2002: $47.7 million).
A drop in the claims costs is largely the cause of the improvement, with the claims ratio hitting 55.5% in second-quarter 2003 versus 87.9% in the same period a year prior. For first-half 2003, the claims ratio is 59.5% versus 75.4% a year earlier.
Expenses were also slashed, to $22.7 million for the quarter, versus $30.5 million a year earlier. However, a rise in commissions and taxes brought the expense ratio up to 44.4% in the quarter, versus 41.3% a year earlier.
Overall, the company was able to post an underwriting gain of $15,000 on a combined ratio of 99.9% in the first half of 2003. This compares with an underwriting loss of $6.9 million on a combined ratio of 129.2% in second-quarter 2002.
Year-to-date, the company did report an underwriting loss of $1.5 million on a combined ratio of 103.1%, but this is still a significant improvement over the loss of $8.4 million, on a combined ratio of 117.1% reported a year earlier.
Investment income dropped by more than half, down to $1.1 million for the quarter and $2.1 million year-to-date in 2003. This compares with investment income last year of $2.8 million in the second-quarter, and $4.8 million in the first half. Gain on sale of investments was $56,000 for first-half 2003, versus $2.5 million a year earlier.


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