For U.S. life and annuity issuers, the weather has probably been too cloudy for a beach party, but it’s been fine for someone wearing short sleeves.
The idea that the life and annuity sector weather has been fine, but boring, has surfaced in a number of recent sector reviews released by credit market and securities analysts.
The issuers are preparing to start releasing their second-quarter earnings during a release season that will start this week and run until mid-August.
Here’s a look at what some of the analysts are saying.
Moody’s Investors Service: Deals
Bob Garofalo and other analysts at Moody’s have put out a report focusing on the impact of mergers and acquisitions on the life and annuity sectors.
The analysts say they believe the overall environment has performed greatly since the days of the 2007-2009 Great Recession financial crisis.
At this point, mergers and acquisitions are helping the sellers’ financial strength, by helping the sellers focus on core activities, and, in the case of the big, strong companies Moody’s rates, improving the buyers’ long-term prospects.
“However, we have likely understated the negative effects of transactions on the overall universe of buyers, because many deals by unrated buyers were excluded from the analysis,” the analysts say.
Because many insurers now have stronger balance sheets than they did a few years ago, their dealmaking activity is likely to continue, the analysts say.
“Although interest rates remain low, the industry has adapted, and insurers have rationalized transactions at these lower levels,” the analysts say. “An increase in rates would drive increased activity. However, the US economic outlook remains clouded, with a risk of an economic slowdown that would hinder M&A [mergers and acquisitions] activity. Of course, this would also potentially present opportunities for patient buyers.”
Fitch Ratings: Mortgage Investments
A year or two ago, credit analysts were worrying about life and annuity issuers’ growing exposure to investments in mortgages and mortgage-backed securities.