American International Group, the insurer bailed out during the financial crisis, lost twice as much as a year earlier after costs linked to a GOP-led tax overhaul exacerbated payouts from the California wildfires.
The New York-based company, where Brian Duperreault took over as CEO last year following a struggle between his predecessor and activists including Carl Icahn, posted a loss of $6.7 billion, or $7.33 a share, in the three months through December.
The period included catastrophe losses of $572 million from the West Coast fires and a charge of more than $6 billion related to the new tax law. The bill's reduction of the top corporate rate to 21 percent from 35 percent forced companies with tax credits related to previous operating losses to write down their value.
The 70-year-old is attempting to turn around a company still regaining its strength after a $182 billion government bailout during the 2008 financial crisis, when the value of securities for which it had provided insurance plummeted. An aide to legendary AIG chief Maurice "Hank" Greenberg," Duperreault climbed the AIG ladder in the 1970s and '80s before moving on.
Since returning, he has convinced the Trump administration to drop the insurer's designation as a systemically important firm, or one likely to imperil the financial system if it collapsed, and made acquisitions including the $6.33 billion purchase of insurer Validus, which has expertise in data analytics.
"The talent and diversification Validus brings to AIG is financially accretive and value enhancing," the CEO said Friday. "The company's business mix includes well-positioned companies providing new sources of growth."
Still, the fourth quarter was "meaningfully impacted" by catastrophe losses, Duperreault said on Friday, and he expects the company to consistently invest in reinsurance, policies that curb the exposure of insurers to large-scale losses, in the future.
Reinsurance "is an important tool for AIG to best manage its portfolio of risks," he said. "It provides another set of eyes on underwriting, helps to manage volatility and control loss exposure."
The tax bill, which hurt the company's end-of-the-year earnings, will offer a meaningful boost to the company going forward, he added, and the company looks "forward to the benefits of additional economic growth."
Excluding one-time costs, AIG posted net income of 57 cents a share in the fourth quarter, lower than the 71-cent average estimate from analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
Duperreault's progress in restructuring the company, along with higher interest rates after five Federal Reserve rate hikes since 2015 and a better market for property and casualty insurance, may all drive the company's share price, said Cathy Seifert, an analyst with CFRA Research. She maintained a 12-month price target of $70 on the stock, which closed at $58.28 on Thursday.