CARMEL, Ind., Feb. 15, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Baldwin & Lyons, Inc. (NASDAQ:BWINA) (NASDAQ:BWINB) today reported results for the fourth quarter and twelve months of 2017. The Company produced fourth quarter net income of $16.5 million, or $1.10 per share, which compares to net income of $4.9 million, or $0.32 per share, for the prior year’s fourth quarter.  For the full year of 2017, net income totaled $18.3 million, or $1.21 per share, which compares to net income of $28.9 million, or $1.92 per share, for the prior year. 

Net premiums earned for the fourth quarter of 2017 increased 40.4% to $97.1 million compared to the prior year period. For full year 2017, net premiums earned increased 18.9% to $328.1 million. The continued growth in the Company’s commercial automobile and workers’ compensation products as well as growth in the Company’s programs book of business contributed to the increase in premiums earned. 

Gross premiums written for the fourth quarter of 2017 increased 37.5% to $144.2 million compared to $104.9 million written during the prior year period.  Gross premiums written for full year 2017 increased 25.2% to $504.7 million compared to $403.0 million written during the prior year.  The increases were primarily driven by continued growth in the Company’s commercial automobile and workers’ compensation products as well as growth in the Company’s programs book of business. 

Net investment income for the fourth quarter of 2017 increased 42.2% to $5.7 million compared to $4.0 million in the prior year period. Full year 2017 net investment income increased 24.9% to $18.1 million, compared to $14.5 million in prior year. The increase reflects higher interest rates, higher reinvestment yields for core fixed income securities, increased dividends from equity securities, and an increase in average funds invested resulting from positive cash flow. 

Underwriting operations produced a combined ratio of 99.3% during the fourth quarter of 2017 compared to a combined ratio of 104.5% for the prior year period. The fourth quarter 2017 combined ratio includes $2.7 million (2.8 percentage points) of unfavorable prior year reserve development, predominately related to legacy business lines which are now in run-off, compared to unfavorable prior year development of $3.4 million (5.0 percentage points) during the prior year period. The combined ratio difference between the fourth quarter of 2017 and 2016 reflects adverse development during the fourth quarter of 2016 related to a number of infrequent, but severe Public Transportation charter bus claims. For full year 2017, the combined ratio was 108.4% compared to a combined ratio of 98.1% for the prior year with the difference primarily related to reserve strengthening in the second quarter of 2017. Prior year unfavorable reserve development in 2017 totaled $19.2 million compared to $13.8 million for the full year 2016.    

Book value per share as of December 31, 2017 was $27.83, an increase of $0.90 per share during the fourth quarter, after the payment of cash dividends to shareholders totaling $0.27 per share. For full year 2017, book value per share increased $1.02 after the payment of cash dividends to shareholders totaling $1.08 per share. The combination of the year-to-date increase in book value of $1.02, plus dividends paid to shareholders of $1.08, represents an annualized total value creation of 7.8% on beginning book value for the full year 2017. 

Conference Call Information:

Baldwin & Lyons, Inc. has scheduled its quarterly conference call for Thursday, February 15, 2018, at 11:00 AM EST to discuss results for the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2017.

To participate via teleconference, investors may dial 1-877-705-6003 (U.S./Canada) or 1-201-493-6725 (International or local) at least five minutes prior to the beginning of the call. A replay of the call will be available through February 22, 2018 by calling 1-844-512-2921 or 1-412-317-6671 and referencing passcode 13674841. Investors and interested parties may also listen to the call via a live webcast, accessible on the company’s web site via a link at the top of the main Investor Relations page. To participate in the webcast, please register at least fifteen minutes prior to the start of the call. The webcast will be archived on this site until August 15, 2018. The webcast may be accessed directly at: http://public.viavid.com/index.php?id=127689.

Also available on the investor relations section of our web site are complete interim financial statements and copies of our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Forward-looking statements in this report are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.  Investors are cautioned that such forward-looking statements involve inherent risks and uncertainties.  Readers are encouraged to review the Company's annual report for its full statement regarding forward-looking information.

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