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Marsh & McLennan Q4 revenue, profit decline

John Doyle

Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc. Thursday reported a 2% decline in total revenue in the fourth quarter but a 7% increase on an underlying basis.

Net income for the quarter fell by 42% to $466 million, as the world’s largest brokerage took a $233 million charge related to restructuring activities, including headcount and real estate reduction, and felt the impact of foreign exchange and capital markets headwinds.

Full-year revenue increased by 5% to $20.72 billion, up 9% on an underlying basis from 2021. Net income declined by 3% to $3.01 billion.

The economic outlook is uncertain, senior Marsh McLennan executives said on an earnings call with analysts.

“As we look ahead to 2023, we see a mixed economic picture,” said John Doyle, Marsh McLennan president and CEO.

While there is a risk of recession for major economies, there are many factors that remain supportive of growth for the business, Mr. Doyle said.

“Softer real GDP growth is offset by elevated inflation, which drives higher insured values and loss costs. P&C insurance rates continue to increase,” he said.

The brokerage expects mid-single-digit or better underlying growth this year, based on its current outlook.

Consolidated revenue for the fourth quarter totaled $5.0 billion, a decline of 2% from the same period in 2021, and up 7% on an underlying basis, according to the brokerage’s earnings statement released Thursday before the markets opened.

Marsh LLC, its main brokerage arm, reported $2.71 billion in revenue, a 6% decrease from the prior-year period and a 6% rise on an underlying basis.

Marsh’s business in the U.S. and Canada reported $1.53 billion in revenue, up 5% overall and 5% on an underlying basis. The U.S. business saw tough comparisons due to elevated SPAC and merger and acquisition activity in the fourth quarter of 2021, senior executives said.

Its Europe, Middle East and Africa business reported $703 million in revenue, a 1% decrease overall but a 7% increase on an underlying basis. Its Asia-Pacific business reported $318 million in revenue, a 43% decrease overall due to a gain related to the consolidation of Marsh India in the prior-year quarter, but up 12% on an underlying basis.

Reinsurance brokerage arm Guy Carpenter & Co. LLC reported $171 million in quarterly revenue, a 1% increase over the prior-year period and up 5% on an underlying basis.

Reinsurance and commercial insurance market conditions remain difficult for buyers, senior Marsh McLennan executives said.

At Jan. 1 reinsurance renewals, global property cat reinsurance rate increases ranged from 25% to 60%, with loss-impacted clients often seeing higher pricing, Mr. Doyle said. In the U.S. property cat rate increases were the highest in 17 years, “generally in a range of 40% to 60%,” he said.

“Commercial property/casualty insurance pricing continues to rise on average across many lines and geographies,” though the pace has continued to moderate, Mr. Doyle said, adding that the tight reinsurance market could have knock-on effects, particularly for property insurance rates,

Pricing and attachment points were up substantially for many clients, not only in the U.S. but in all geographies at Jan. 1, said Dean Klisura, president and CEO of Guy Carpenter.

“Our clients were forced to take more risk, more volatility on their balance sheets, in terms of buying patterns,” Mr. Klisura said.

The Marsh Global Insurance Market Index showed price increases of 4% in the fourth quarter, the 21st consecutive quarter of rate increases.

Casualty rate increases leveled off at 3%, while property accelerated to 7% in the fourth quarter. “We anticipate that is going to continue through the first quarter of next year,” as the cost of catastrophe losses and reinsurance costs are absorbed, said Martin South, president and CEO of Marsh.

Directors and officers liability rate increases moderated to 6% due to the decline in SPAC activity and new capacity entering the market. Cyber rates rose 28%, a deceleration from last year’s third quarter.

Marsh’s captive management business grew nearly double digits in the quarter and for the year, as clients retained more of their risk, Mr. South said.