AmTrust Announces Net Income For The Second Quarter 2016

By: Jeff Hatch

August 02, 2016

Warrantech’s parent company, AmTrust today announced second quarter 2016 net income attributable to common stockholders was $134.8 million, or $0.78 per diluted share, compared to $70.7 million, or $0.42 per diluted share, in the second quarter 2015. 
 
For the second quarter 2016, operating earnings was $140.3 million, or $0.81 per diluted share, compared to $130.5 million, or $0.78 per diluted share, in the second quarter of 2015. Annualized return on common equity was 21.1% for the second quarter of 2016 compared to 14.3% for the second quarter of 2015. Second quarter 2016 annualized operating return on common equity was 21.9% compared to 26.3% in the second quarter 2015.
 
Second Quarter 2016 Results
 
Total revenue was $1.39 billion, an increase of $0.28 billion, or 25%, from $1.11 billion in the second quarter 2015. Gross written premium was $2.07 billion, an increase of $0.39 billion, or 24%, from $1.68 billion in the second quarter of 2015. Net written premium was $1.27 billion, an increase of $0.26 billion, or 26%, compared to $1.01 billion in the second quarter 2015. Net earned premium was $1.18 billion, an increase of $0.21 billion, or 22%, from $0.97 billion in the second quarter 2015. The combined ratio was 91.7% compared to 90.5% in second quarter 2015.
 
A summary of Q2 results is listed below along with a link to the earnings release. 
 
Financial Highlights
 
Second Quarter 2016
 
Gross written premium of $2.07 billion, up 23.5% compared to $1.68 billion in the second quarter 2015
Net earned premium of $1.18 billion, up 22.0% from $0.97 billion in the second quarter 2015 
Net income attributable to common stockholders of $134.8 million compared to $70.7 million in the second quarter 2015
Operating earnings of $140.3 million compared to $130.5 million in the second quarter 2015
Diluted EPS of $0.78 compared to $0.42 in the second quarter 2015
Operating diluted EPS of $0.81 compared to $0.78 in the second quarter 2015
Annualized return on common equity of 21.1% and annualized operating return on common equity of 21.9% 
Service and fee income of $138.3 million, up 28% from $107.7 million in the second quarter 2015
Combined ratio of 91.7% compared to 90.5% in the second quarter 2015
Weighted average diluted shares outstanding of 173.0 million, up 3% compared to 168.1 million in the second quarter 2015
Repurchased 3.58 million common shares at a weighted average price of $24.82 per share

Filed Under: earnings, financials, income, quarter, second

Advantage: Independent

By: Jeff Hatch

July 09, 2016

With NIADA CPO and the Internet Creating a Level Playing Field, Independent Dealers’ Low Overhead Gives Them an Edge in the Used Car Market

Last year was one of the best retail sales years in car business history. And looking forward, sales in 2016 and beyond should benefit from the wave of full employment, low interest rates and low fuel prices to continue knocking down strong years. So where does the independent operator fit into this sales boom? How do owners in this segment of the market maximize their dealership value? 

As new car franchises hit record numbers, the trend creates opportunities for independent sales organizations. But the question is: How can you capitalize on those opportunities when they are presented?

The Internet allows independent dealers, no matter how small, to compete on an even playing field with mega-franchises. 

It is important to know that new car franchises look for one-to-one new-to-used sales. They’re currently running at about .02-to-one used-to-new, according to NADA data. 

With used car prices at an all-time high, according to Edmunds.com, and new car dealers renewing their efforts to conquest used car customers, independent operators needs to be prepared for the future — not only to gain market share, but to keep what they have.  

On the Internet, the small operation is the same size as the largest dealer. If an independent operator takes advantage of his opportunities while diminishing his competition’s added value, the independent dealership can compete very well with new vehicle showrooms. 

When looking at how to best capture a percentage of sales generated from the big-box retailers, it is always wise to examine the advantages and disadvantages of your position versus local new car dealerships. 

The biggest and most obvious difference is the facility. New car franchises are required by their OEMs to meet certain specifications in order to remain a franchisee. 

Those cathedrals to car sales look great and attract customers, but in the final analysis add nothing to the value of the vehicle purchased. In addition to that zero value, the future and present state of the auto industry relies heavily on Internet sales, which makes these structures almost obsolete. 

The costs of building and maintaining the facilities at most franchise lots are astronomical. And because the new car business is so competitive, the franchise stores’ profits from their new vehicle departments are minimal. That means the costs must be paid for through used car sales, the service department and increasingly higher profits in service contracts. 

The overhead advantage works in favor of the independent used car dealer.

This is the best news for independent dealers. A small lot can be just as spectacular as the largest franchise on the web. 

If the independent dealer can get his message out to customers, he has a chance to take one or two new vehicle customers and some used customers from a larger dealership. 

One very important statistic to keep in mind is that a new car purchaser will consider a used vehicle instead 59 percent of the time – if the used vehicle is certified. 

That creates an opportunity for a used car dealer to capture new car business. 

It means if the new car market consists of 1,000 people per month in your area, 590 of them would look at a good certified pre-owned vehicle. Attracting 1 percent of those customers through the Internet translates to six vehicle sales a month. 

The great change that the Internet has brought is a larger marketplace and a greater opportunity for used vehicle operations to cash in.

Unfortunately for new car franchises, the Internet really serves to drive profits down in the new vehicle world because of the competitive advantage it gives the customer. 

A new vehicle at one lot is no different than the one down the street. Customers can locate and negotiate its purchase at multiple lots, pitting one franchise dealer against the other and putting the customer in a power position. 

Not so with used vehicles. They are all different because of miles and vehicle condition, which makes location a much more important factor in the shopping experience. 

That is why eBay retailers like NIADA president Frank Fuzy of Century Motors of South Florida can get customers from all over the country. The shopping those customers do is powered by the way a vehicle looks and the way it is described on the Internet. 

If a vehicle is clean and in front-row-ready condition — featured with an appealing background, shown from all angles inside and out, badged with vehicle certification, and presented with a limited warranty and an explanation of the meaning of CPO — an independent with the smallest lot will be able to compete for a customer’s attention against the largest retailers.

Many small operations don’t put the effort into the photos they post on the Internet. They need to realize it is the equivalent of the showroom of the ’60s and ’70s and should be thought of as a display case. 

Large dealer groups put a huge emphasis on their web display in their marketing efforts, making sure that the vehicles and the ambience of the background appeals to visiting customers. 

Typically, social media is where customers first see a CPO program’s commitment to quality. If customers don’t feel the program meets a high standard, they will not feel safe doing business with that dealership.

Participating in CPO programs offered by organizations like NIADA announces your commitment to integrity and allows your website to display certified units, which shows your commitment to the customer and the industry. 

But simply being a member of such a program is not enough. You need to broadcast what that membership means so customers become informed enough to tell the difference between an NIADA member and other car lots. 

Another thing to keep in mind is new vehicle dealerships really have little advantage in inventory. They might carry more units than a smaller store, but independents should be able to be more responsive to the customer’s needs. 

Everybody pays the same price for automobiles. Whether it’s purchased at the auction, traded in for a new vehicle or bought wholesale, a car is worth what it’s worth. 

The real advantage for a dealer is the ability to have vehicles certified by a national source. Usually, that means a factory certification program administered by a manufacturer that has invested millions of dollars into creating a certified market. In doing so, it has created a niche in the customer base for people who have a prejudice toward buying a vehicle that is certified and will not look at anything else. 

Certified vehicles now make up 65 percent of the used vehicles sold by franchise dealers. That means any car lot that does not have some certification program is only going to be a viable alternative to 35 percent of the used vehicle market. 

So how do you certify your vehicles? 

There are really three ways — through the factory, a dealer-branded program or a third-party program. 

Factory dealerships are strongly encouraged to certify every vehicle through their OEM’s programs. While those are very good certifications, there is no proof customers put any more credibility in those programs than they assign to third-party or dealer-branded programs. 

Customers know they want certified even though they may not be fully aware of what that means. What customers are really looking for is tangible evidence that the certification is meaningful and that there is a credible program behind it. 

Factories have spent millions making customers aware of certification and the value of a certified vehicle. They have even tried to tie certifications to new vehicle franchises. 

But that can work to an independent dealer’s advantage.

Factory programs are very specific as to what is certifiable, making their certified vehicles cost more in reconditioning than the average trade-in. And OEM programs get into distinguishing between vehicles with or without matching tires or if they have factory-installed floor mats, when customers really just care about the vehicles being mechanically sound.

A customer might not be buying a certified vehicle because the program has a limited warranty attached, but a limited warranty offers proof, from the customer’s point of view, that the certified vehicle should command a higher price. 

Customers feel if the entity issuing the certification is also backing it with a limited warranty, that entity must believe in the certification process.

To be a credible certification program, there has to be reputable company paying the bills for customer repairs. A strong financial backer, along with coverage that protects customers from the fear of buying someone else’s problem, offers the peace of mind customers are looking for when they decide to purchase a certified vehicle.

Factory stores are forced or strongly encouraged to go with factory-backed certification programs. But recently, more and more progressive dealers like Huntington Honda in Long Island, N.Y., have elected to venture off with their own dealer-branded programs. 

Groups like this have seen how the high costs of factory programs have limited their profits without providing a significant benefit over other nationally recognized programs. 

The best known and most respected of the nationally recognized certification programs outside of the OEM brands is the NIADA Certified Pre-Owned Program. 

Frank Fuzy credits the NIADA CPO program for giving him the credibility that has helped him sell vehicles on eBay. 

Frank is the king of eBay sales – he sells more cars on eBay using the program than any other dealership. At the 2015 NIADA Convention and Expo, Fuzy said he hopes more stores don’t start using the NIADA CPO program because he competes nationally on the Internet and believes the program gives him an advantage he doesn’t want to give up. 

Teaming with NIADA removes the biggest advantage a new car franchise has. Statistics show that 65 percent of all people buy a car where they get it repaired. So when your customers are using your warranty, you can direct them to the service department where you want them to have their repairs completed. 

The NIADA CPO Program allows independents to bring customers into their service area, creating another profit center as the warranty pays for retail parts and labor. 

The greatest equalizer in the history of the car business is the Internet. When automobiles are presented on the Internet with NIADA CPO certification and a limited warranty, they stand out from the fog and clutter of vehicles advertised on the social media outlets. 

The dealer or independent operator who knows how to take advantage of the social media setting will be able to excel in the new environment we find ourselves in. 

For example, when Fuzy advertises on the Internet that he certifies his vehicles with the NIADA CPO program, he gains an advantage in several ways. 

First, his organization is saying it has an agreement with a national organization that was founded on ethical business practices. Plus the program is backed by Warrantech, a wholly owned subsidiary of AmTrust Financial, which is A+ rated and accredited by the Better Business Bureau. 

That gives Fuzy’s customers peace of mind and an affordable program that provides rental vehicle benefits, towing and trip interruption coverage equal to or better than most megastores.

Using a program like NIADA’s allows an independent broker to take advantage of the cost of maintaining the lot he has as opposed to a new car franchise’s Taj Mahal.

Simultaneously, it allows for more gross profit and faster turn of inventory while alleviating the risk that a customer assumes. 

Risk is what drives the used vehicle industry. The more risk a customer is willing to accept, the less the vehicle will cost. A 12-year-old vehicle with 100,000 miles is much less expensive to purchase than a new vehicle because of the risk in ownership. 

That risk is mostly due to repair costs, which can be offset with a CPO program like the one offered by NIADA. 

Many experts foresee a golden age in vehicle sales over the next 10 years, with predictions that average annual new vehicle sales will reach 17.5 million. Sales of that volume would make it the best sales period in the history of the auto industry. 

Independent used vehicle operations that take the time to position themselves at the top of the pyramid and are prepared to take a portion of new car franchises’ business will find this a very profitable period. 

By partnering with the right organizations and following through with what you promise, you can use the next 10 years to establish your dealership as a dominant force in the market.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: William Carr is a regional training manager for Warrantech Automotive, Inc., and a longtime auto industry veteran in sales, management and training. For more information on the NIADA CPO program, visit www.niadacertified.com/dealers. 

This article originally appeared in the July 2016 edition of Used Car Dealer magazine and can be found online at: http://www.usedcardealermagazine.com/i/698409-jul-2016/30 

Filed Under: AmTrust, automotive, certified, CPO, dealers, independent, NIADA, pre-owned, Warrantech

Turn A Negative Into A Positive With Warrantech

By: Jeff Hatch

July 08, 2016

Product failures are inevitable. There's no way to avoid them. But when they do happen, the way in which they are handled can have a far greater impact and help turn a bad experience into a positive, long-lasting impression. 
 
Warrantech's overall philosophy regarding service contract programs is vastly different from the competition. Our belief is that service contracts are a means of building trust and loyalty with customers who have experienced a product failure, in addition to increasing profitability for our partners. We view every claim as an opportunity to turn a negative product mishap into an affirmative relationship-building event. An outstanding claim-handling experience is a micromarketing opportunity that yields macro-marketing effects with customers and their circle of influence. 
 
"When products break, customers can lose confidence in the product manufacturer and ultimately the retailer that sold it to them," says Warrantech President and CEO Sean Stapleton. "However, if a rapid and convenient resolution is provided, a higher level of trust and loyalty is often developed with the customer."
 
We understand the importance that a positive service experience can have for our partners and feel that our employees are extensions of our clients on every call and every transaction. That's why we provide our employees with the knowledge, training, skills, resources and environment needed to provide an exceptional service experience with every customer they interact with. 
 
This approach creates a customer who is not only satisfied with the outcome of the transaction, but a customer who walks away from the experience with a positive outlook on the service contract, Warrantech and, most importantly, our partners. Through continual contact center associate training and monitoring, Warrantech is able to maintain consistency in responses and a positive customer experience.
 
"We have a unique opportunity to affect customer loyalty," says Stapleton. "Customers recognize and accept that product breakdowns can happen to even the most reliable products. The customer's perception of the product issues are more often driven by our responses. I see service contracts and warranty programs as one of the most powerful loyalty solutions out there. It actually is a game changer."
 
Visit warrantech.com or give us a call at 800.833.8801 to learn more about how we can benefit you.

Filed Under: contract, customer, experience, positive, service, Warrantech

Purposeful Transparency — Another Reason To Partner With Warrantech

By: Jeff Hatch

June 08, 2016

At Warrantech, we believe that the cornerstone of a successful relationship is the constant sharing of program information with our partners, including underwriting results and key performance indicators (for example: customer satisfaction, service levels and product reliability). We feel that this purposeful transparency — coupled with our unmatched flexibility, innovation and deep industry expertise — are the attributes that separate us from the competition. 
 
As a subsidiary of The Amynta Group, a multinational property and casualty holding company that is one of the strongest and most financially stable companies in the industry, we are able to provide both global underwriting and administrative services. This vertical integration creates complete transparency and a level of insight into program performance that is unparalleled, which in turn leads to increased efficiencies and optimization for your business plan. 
 
During quarterly business reviews with our partners, we present key findings and can pinpoint issues right down to the part level. This gives us the opportunity to help alleviate any concerns with your program and give you deeper insight into its performance, which includes, but is not limited to:  
 
Industry observations and patterns
Best-in-class performance/benchmark analysis (including ROI and opportunity costs)
Brand leaders and industry innovations
Competitive intelligence (industry and market leaders)
Best practices
Marketing updates
Regulatory environment review
Contact center KPIs/SLAs
Experience reports
 
We also provide real-time access to our systems, giving each partner the ability to track program performance at any given time. Additionally, to ensure that the program is maintained in a manner consistent with your standards, we can structure your program so that your employees can be embedded at the Warrantech facility. This transparency enables us to provide you with profit sharing programs so that you are able to benefit even further from the ongoing success of your program. 
 
To learn more about Warrantech’s unparalleled transparency, visit warrantech.com or call 800.833.8801.
 
 Warrantech Program Transparency at a Glance
 
 Program Accessibility:
   • Open communication 
   • Real-time program performance
   • Complete system access
   • Embedded client employee options
 
 Program Design Customized to Meet Each Client’s Needs: 
   • Creation of policy and procedure handbook 
   • Personalized performance metrics
   • Customer satisfaction levels using
     - Customer surveys
     - Quality assurance
     - Net Promoter Score (NPS)
     - Social media

Filed Under: business, client, innovation, insight, integration, partner, plan, program, transparency

AmTrust Announces Continued Growth of Operated Earnings For The First Quarter 2016

By: Jeff Hatch

May 03, 2016

AmTrust today announced continued growth of operating earnings and strong operating return on equity for the first quarter of 2016.

For the first quarter 2016, operating earnings were $136.6 million, or $0.77 per diluted share, compared to $121.4 million, or $0.73 per diluted share, in the first quarter of 2015. First quarter 2016 net income attributable to common stockholders was $100.3 million, or $0.56 per diluted share, compared to $154.7 million, or $0.93 per diluted share, in the first quarter 2015. First quarter 2016 annualized operating return on common equity was 22.1% compared to 26.1% in the first quarter 2015. Annualized return on common equity was 16.2% for the first quarter of 2016 compared to 33.3% for the first quarter of 2015.

First Quarter 2016 Results

Total revenue was $1.28 billion, an increase of $0.16 billion, or 15%, from $1.11 billion in the first quarter 2015. Gross written premium was $1.93 billion, an increase of $0.20 billion, or 12%, from $1.73 billion in the first quarter of 2015. Net written premium was $1.22 billion, an increase of $0.18 billion, or 17%, compared to $1.04 billion in the first quarter 2015. Net earned premium was $1.07 billion, an increase of $0.12 billion, or 13%, from $0.95 billion in the first quarter 2015. The combined ratio was 91.2% compared to 89.0% in first quarter 2015.

A summary of Q1 results is listed below along with a link to the earnings release. 

Financial Highlights

First Quarter 2016

Gross written premium of $1.93 billion, up 12% compared to $1.73 billion in the first quarter 2015

Net earned premium of $1.07 billion, up 13% from $0.95 billion in the first quarter 2015 

Operating diluted EPS of $0.77 compared to $0.73 in the first quarter 2015

Diluted EPS of $0.56 compared to $0.93 in the first quarter 2015

Annualized operating return on common equity of 22.1% and annualized return on common equity of 16.2%

Service and fee income of $144.2 million, up 28% from $112.9 million in the first quarter 2015

Operating earnings of $136.6 million compared to $121.4 million in the first quarter 2015 

Net income attributable to common stockholders of $100.3 million compared to $154.7 million in the first quarter 2015

Combined ratio of 91.2% compared to 89.0% in the first quarter 2015

Weighted average diluted shares outstanding of 177.9 million, up 7% compared to 166.9 million in the first quarter 2015

Book value per common share of $14.35, up 20% from $12.00 at March 31, 2015

AmTrust's stockholders' equity was $3.14 billion as of March 31, 2016, up 8% compared to $2.91 billion as of December 31, 2015


Filed Under: earnings, financial, first, quarter, results

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