Today’s first quarter update from RSA (LSE: RSA) shows that the insurance company enjoyed a strong first quarter and is moving in the right direction. Although its results benefitted from benign weather conditions that flattered its performance, the underlying trend is still one of progress and shows that RSA is performing well in a challenging market.
The key reason for this is the company’s strategy, which includes a mix of asset disposals as well as other self-help measures that are putting it on the path to strong growth. For example, RSA is reducing expenses, improving customer service levels, making pricing and underwriting improvements, as well as increasing the use of technology where possible.
Together, these changes are forecast to aid RSA in delivering a 45% rise in net profit in the current year, followed by growth of 21% next year. Both of these figures have the potential to improve investor sentiment in the stock and with RSA trading on a price-to-earnings-growth (PEG) ratio of just 0.6, it seems to have significant upward rerating prospects.
Also reporting today was esure (LSE: ESUR), with the insurer stating that it’s on track to meet full-year guidance following a strong quarter. Gross written premiums increased by 15.5% versus the comparable quarter of the previous year, while in-force policies grew by 1.7%. Furthermore, esure’s comparison website Gocompare.com made very good progress in the quarter, with it recording income growth of 19%. esure is expecting an increase of 20%-30% in Gocompare’s pre-tax profit for the year and its new advertising campaign seems to be performing well.
With esure expected to increase its bottom line by 12% this year and by a further 19% next year, it could benefit from rising investor sentiment over the medium term. As with RSA, esure has a relatively low valuation, with its shares trading on a PEG ratio of only 0.7. This indicates that they offer a wide margin of safety and could prove to be an excellent long-term buy. That’s especially the case since esure currently yields around 4.7%.
Meanwhile, challenger bank Shawbrook (LSE: SHAW) today announced that it has experienced a positive start to the year. Its first quarter saw underlying pre-tax profit rise by 29% versus the same period of last year, with increased originations and continued operational leverage aiding its financial performance. Net loans and advances increased by 6% to £3.57bn in the quarter, with Shawbrook’s common equity tier 1 (CET1) ratio of 13.4% being ahead of its long-term target of 12%.
Looking ahead, Shawbrook expects to pay its maiden dividend in 2016 and while this is likely to be a relatively small amount, in 2017 it’s due to pay out around 30% of net profit to its shareholders. At its current share price, this equates to a yield of around 4.1% and with Shawbrook set to continue to grow its bottom line at a double-digit rate over the medium-to-long term, its appeal as an income play could be significant.
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Peter Stephens has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.