American International Group stock (NYSE: AIG) lost more than 63% – dropping from $52 at the end of 2019 to around $19 in late March – then spiked 50% to around $29 now. Despite the recent rally, the stock remains 44% below its level at the beginning of the year.
There were 2 reasons for this: The Covid-19 outbreak and economic slowdown meant that market expectations for 2020 and the near-term consumer demand plummeted. As the company is heavily dependent on insurance premiums and income from investment of these premiums, this could harm its top line due to lower premiums and expected drop in investment yields. However, the multi-billion-dollar Fed stimulus in late March helped arrest the negative market sentiment, which is also evident from the stock recovery after that point.
But this isn’t the end of the story for American International Group’s stock
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Trefis estimates American International Group’s valuation to be around $37 per share – about 30% above the current market price – based on an upcoming trigger explained below and one risk factor.
The trigger is an improved trajectory for American International Group’s revenues over the second half of the year. We expect the company to report $44.8 billion in revenues for 2020 – around 10% lower than the figure for 2019. Our forecast stems from our belief that the economy is likely to improve in Q3. This is also substantiated from the recently released consumer spending data in the U.S which suggests an m-o-m growth of 8.5% in May followed by 5.6% m-o-m in June. If the trend continues in the coming months, it is likely to improve the net premium figure which was expected to suffer as customers and businesses were more focused on the short term. Further, income from investment of insurance premiums – which is very critical for its profitability – has improved due to the recent improvement in the securities market. This, in turn, would benefit the revenue trajectory over the coming months. The net income for the year is expected to drop to $2.3 billion – down 31% y-o-y, reducing the EPS figure to $2.69 for FY2020.
Thereafter, American International Group’s revenues are expected to marginally decline to $44.2 billion in FY2021, mainly driven by a slight drop in the life and retirement segment. Further, the net income margin is likely to improve to the FY 2019 level, leading to an EPS of $3.53 for FY2021.
Finally, how much should the market pay per dollar of American International Group’s earnings? Well, to earn close to $3.53 per year from a bank, you’d have to deposit around $390 in a savings account today, so about 110x the desired earnings. At American International Group’s current share price of roughly $30, we are talking about a P/E multiple of just below 9x. And we think a figure closer to 11x will be appropriate.
That said, insurance is a risky business right now. Growth looks less promising, and near-term prospects are less than rosy. What’s behind that?
American International Group is an insurance giant with around $390 billion in identifiable assets between its life & retirement and group insurance segments (as per FY 2019 data). The company drives around 25% of its total revenues from income generated by the investment of insurance premiums. Hence, its business model is very sensitive toward changes in investment yields. While the S&P 500 index is on a growth trajectory (up 55%) since the March bottom, any further destabilization in the economic condition or an unexpected jump in the Covid-19 case count can reverse the momentum and could negatively impact AIG’s top line.
The same trend is visible across American International Group’s peer – Prudential Financial. Its revenues are also likely to suffer in FY2020 due to lower premiums and a drop in investment income. This would explain why Prudential Financial stock currently has a stock price of over $69 but looks slated for an EPS of around $10.09 in FY2021.
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