Hardy Underwritingwww.hardygroup.co.uk TICKER: HDU EXCHANGE: L
Hardy Underwriting Bermuda is the parent company for Hardy which is widely viewed as the best Lloyd's underwriter, which most interpret as meaning the best insurance underwriter in the world. It is not a giant company because more than once it has chosen to stick to its specialty rather than expand into areas where it had no, or less, advantage (which would have benefited management to the detriment of Names and/or shareholders). Hardy's Syndicate 382 has made a profit in every single Year of Account since it was founded in 1975; it started as a specialist aviation syndicate because Peter Hardy had a better understanding of the risks attaching to helicopters than anyone else. It has diversified into marine, non-marine property, property reinsurance, and specialty lines as and when it has attracted a high-quality underwriting team covering specialties in those sectors. It has rebuffed a number of takeover bids because it believed that it would perform better than under the control of an inferior insurer or (in the case of Beazley which is of comparable quality) that the bid undervalued the company, or both.
- Hardy's surplus funds were well used in buying a stake in its rival Atrium
- Reported profits in 2004 will continue to benefit from the sale of this stake, and shareholders will receive a 25p special dividend in October
- 2004 profit prospects look reasonable, despite some weakening in rates
- Hardy has been remarkably successful in its single minded pursuit of profitable underwriting. However, at this stage we are taking a cautious view of 2005.
- Lloyd's market which has seen some difficult trading years, while the shares enjoy a strong asset backing of 142p per share. The environment for underwriting rates appears to have improved at a time when HUG has almost doubled its allocated capacity at Lloyd's, from £54m to £100m.
- Hardy Underwriting: 14.7% after tax return, despite large individual hit