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ESNT > SEC Filings for ESNT > Form 10-Q on 14-Aug-2014All Recent SEC Filings

Show all filings for ESSENT GROUP LTD.



Quarterly Report

Item 2. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and
Results of Operations

The following discussion should be read together with the "Selected Financial Data" and our audited consolidated financial statements and related notes included in our Annual Report on Form 10-K as of and for the year ended December 31, 2013 as filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission and referred to herein as the "Annual Report," and our condensed consolidated financial statements and related notes as of and for the three and six months ended June 30, 2014 included in Part I, Item 1 of this Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q, which we refer to as the "Quarterly Report". In addition to historical information, this discussion contains forward-looking statements that involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions that could cause actual results to differ materially from management's expectations. Factors that could cause such differences are discussed in the sections entitled "Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements" in this Quarterly Report and Part I, Item 1A "Risk Factors" in our Annual Report. We are not undertaking any obligation to update any forward-looking statements or other statements we may make in the following discussion or elsewhere in this document even though these statements may be affected by events or circumstances occurring after the forward-looking statements or other statements were made.


We are an established and growing private mortgage insurance company. We were formed to serve the U.S. housing finance industry at a time when the demands of the financial crisis and a rapidly changing business environment created the need for a new, privately funded mortgage insurance company. Since writing our first policy in May 2010, we have grown to an estimated 14% market share based on new insurance written, or NIW, excluding NIW under the Home Affordable Refinance Program, for the six months ended June 30, 2014, up from 12.1%, 8.6% and 4.5% for the years ended December 31, 2013, 2012 and 2011, respectively. We believe that our growth has been driven largely by the unique opportunity we offer lenders to partner with a well-capitalized mortgage insurer, unencumbered by legacy business, that provides fair and transparent claims payment practices, and consistency and speed of service.

In 2010, Essent Guaranty, Inc., our wholly-owned insurance subsidiary, became the first private mortgage insurer to be approved by the GSEs since 1995, and is licensed to write coverage in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. We completed our initial public offering in November 2013. The financial strength of Essent Guaranty is rated Baa2 with a stable outlook by Moody's Investors Service and BBB+ with a stable outlook by Standard & Poor's Rating Services.

We had master policy relationships with approximately 1,073 customers as of June 30, 2014. We have a fully functioning, scalable and flexible mortgage insurance platform, which we acquired from Triad Guaranty Inc. and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Triad Guaranty Insurance Corporation, which we refer to collectively as "Triad", in exchange for up to $30 million in cash and the assumption of certain contractual obligations. Our holding company is domiciled in Bermuda and our U.S. insurance business is headquartered in Radnor, Pennsylvania. We operate additional underwriting and service centers in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and Irvine, California. We have a highly experienced, talented team with 323 employees as of June 30, 2014. We generated new insurance written of approximately $5.9 billion and $9.5 billion for the three and six months ended June 30, 2014, respectively, compared to approximately $5.9 and $10.2 billion the three and six months ended June 30, 2013, respectively. As of June 30, 2014, we had approximately $39.4 billion of insurance in force.

Through June 30, 2014, all of our insurance business has been conducted through Essent Guaranty. In July 2014, Essent Re issued its first insurance policy (see Note 12 to our condensed consolidated financial statements).

Legislative and Regulatory Developments

Our results are significantly impacted by, and our future success may be affected by, legislative and regulatory developments affecting the housing finance industry. See Part I, Item 1 "Business-Regulation" and Part II, Item 7 "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations-Legislative and Regulatory Developments" in our Annual Report for a discussion of the laws and regulations to which we are subject as well as legislative and regulatory developments affecting the housing finance industry.

On July 10, 2014, the Federal Housing Finance Agency ("FHFA") released for public input draft Private Mortgage Insurer Eligibility Requirements, ("PMIERs"). If implemented, the PMIERs represent revised standards by which private mortgage insurers would be eligible to provide mortgage insurance on loans owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The public input period with respect to the PMIERs is expected to close on September 8, 2014. See additional discussion in "- Liquidity and Capital Resources - Draft Private Mortgage Insurer Eligibility Requirements."

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Factors Affecting Our Results of Operations

Net Premiums Written and Earned

Premiums are based on insurance in force, or IIF, during all or a portion of a period. A change in the average IIF during a period causes premiums to increase or decrease as compared to prior periods. Average premiums rates in effect during a given period will also cause premiums to differ when compared to earlier periods. IIF at the end of a reporting period is a function of the IIF at the beginning of such reporting period plus new insurance written, or NIW, less policy cancellations (including claims paid) during the period. As a result, premiums are generally influenced by:

† NIW, which is the aggregate principal amount of the new mortgages that are insured during a period. Many factors affect NIW, including, among others, the volume of low down payment home mortgage originations and the competition to provide credit enhancement on those mortgages;

† Cancellations of our insurance policies, which are impacted by payments on mortgages, home price appreciation, or refinancings, which in turn are affected by mortgage interest rates. Cancellations are also impacted by the levels of rescissions and claim payments;

† Premium rates, which represent the amount of the premium due as a percentage of IIF. Premium rates are based on the risk characteristics of the loans insured, the percentage of coverage on the loans, competition from other mortgage insurers and general industry conditions; and

† Premiums ceded or assumed under reinsurance arrangements with unaffiliated third parties. To date, we have not entered into any third party reinsurance contracts.

Premiums are paid either on a monthly installment basis ("monthly premiums"), in a single payment at origination ("single premiums"), or in some cases as an annual premium. For monthly premiums, we receive a monthly premium payment which is recorded as net premiums earned in the month the coverage is provided. Net premiums written may be in excess of net premiums earned due to single premium policies. For single premiums, we receive a single premium payment at origination, which is recorded as "unearned premium" and earned over the estimated life of the policy, which ranges from 36 to 156 months depending on the term of the underlying mortgage and loan-to-value ratio at date of origination. If single premium policies are cancelled due to repayment of the underlying loan and the premium is non-refundable, the remaining unearned premium balance is immediately recognized as earned premium revenue. Substantially all of our single premium policies in force as of June 30, 2014 were non-refundable. Premiums collected on annual policies are recognized as net premiums earned on a straight line basis over the year of coverage. For the six months ended June 30, 2014, monthly and single premium policies comprised 81.5% and 18.5% of our NIW, respectively.

Persistency and Business Mix

The percentage of IIF that remains on our books after any 12-month period is defined as our persistency rate. Because our insurance premiums are earned over the life of a policy, higher persistency rates can have a significant impact on our profitability. The persistency rate on our portfolio was 89.1% at June 30, 2014. Generally, higher prepayment speeds lead to lower persistency.

Prepayment speeds and the relative mix of business between single premium policies and monthly premium policies also impact our profitability. Our premium rates include certain assumptions regarding repayment or prepayment speeds of the mortgages. Because premiums are paid at origination on single premium policies, assuming all other factors remain constant, if loans are prepaid earlier than expected, our profitability on these loans is likely to increase and, if loans are repaid slower than expected, our profitability on these loans is likely to decrease. By contrast, if monthly premium loans are repaid earlier than anticipated, our premium earned with respect to those loans and therefore our profitability declines. Currently, the expected return on single premium policies is less than the expected return on monthly policies.

Net Investment Income

Our investment portfolio was comprised entirely of investment grade fixed income securities and money market investments as of June 30, 2014. The principal factors that influence investment income are the size of the investment portfolio and the yield. As measured by amortized cost (which excludes changes in fair market value, such as from changes in interest rates), the size of our investment portfolio is mainly a function of increases in capital and cash generated from or used in operations which is impacted by net premiums received, investment earnings, net claim payments and expenses. Realized gains and losses are a function of the difference between the amount received on the sale of a security and the security's amortized cost, as well as any "other-than-

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temporary" impairments recognized in earnings. The amount received on the sale of fixed income securities is affected by the coupon rate of the security compared to the yield of comparable securities at the time of sale.

Other Income

In connection with the acquisition of our mortgage insurance platform, we entered into a services agreement with Triad to provide certain information technology maintenance and development and customer support-related services. In return for these services, we receive a fee which is recorded in other income. From the period from December 1, 2009 to November 30, 2010, this fee was based on a fixed amount. Effective December 1, 2010, the fee is adjusted monthly based on the number of Triad's mortgage insurance policies in force and, accordingly, will decrease over time as Triad's existing policies are cancelled. The services agreement provides for a minimum monthly fee of $150,000 for the duration of the services agreement. The services agreement expires on November 30, 2014 and provides for two subsequent five-year renewals at Triad's option.

Other income also includes revenues associated with contract underwriting services. The level of contract underwriting revenue is dependent upon the number of customers who have engaged us for this service and the number of loans underwritten for these customers.

Provision for Losses and Loss Adjustment Expenses

The provision for losses and loss adjustment expenses reflect the current expense that is recorded within a particular period to reflect actual and estimated loss payments that we believe will ultimately be made as a result of insured loans that are in default.

Losses incurred are generally affected by:

† the overall state of the economy, which broadly affects the likelihood that borrowers may default on their loans and have the ability to cure such defaults;

† changes in housing values, which affect our ability to mitigate our losses through the sale of properties with loans in default as well as borrower willingness to continue to make mortgage payments when the value of the home is below or perceived to be below the mortgage balance;

† the product mix of IIF, with loans having higher risk characteristics generally resulting in higher defaults and claims;

† the size of loans insured, with higher average loan amounts tending to increase losses incurred;

† the loan-to-value ratio, with higher average loan-to-value ratios tending to increase losses incurred;

† the percentage of coverage on insured loans, with deeper average coverage tending to increase losses incurred;

† credit quality of borrowers, including higher debt-to-income ratios and lower FICO scores, which tend to increase incurred losses;

† the rate at which we rescind policies. Because of tighter underwriting standards generally in the mortgage lending industry and terms set forth in our Clarity of Coverageฎ master policy endorsement, we expect that our level of rescission activity will be lower than recent rescission activity seen in the mortgage insurance industry; and

† the distribution of claims over the life of a book. The average age of our insurance portfolio is young with 96% of our IIF as of June 30, 2014 having been originated since January 1, 2012. As a result, based on historical industry performance, we expect the number of defaults and claims we experience, as well as our provision for losses and loss adjustment expenses, to increase as our portfolio seasons. See "- Mortgage Insurance Earnings and Cash Flow Cycle" below.

We establish loss reserves for delinquent loans when we are notified that a borrower has missed at least two consecutive monthly payments ("Case Reserves"), as well as estimated reserves for defaults that may have occurred but not yet been reported to us ("IBNR Reserves"). We also establish reserves for the associated loss adjustment expenses ("LAE"), consisting of the estimated cost of the claims administration process, including legal and other fees. Using both internal and external information, we establish our reserves based on the likelihood that a default will reach claim status and estimated claim severity. See Part II, Item 7 "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" - Critical Accounting Policies" included in our Annual Report for further information.

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We believe, based upon our experience and industry data, that claims incidence for mortgage insurance is generally highest in the third through sixth years after loan origination. As of June 30, 2014, 96% of our IIF relates to business written since January 1, 2012 and substantially all of our policies in force are less than three years old. Although the claims experience on new insurance written by us to date has been favorable, we expect incurred losses and claims to increase as a greater amount of this book of insurance reaches its anticipated period of highest claim frequency. The actual default rate and the average reserve per default that we experience as our portfolio matures is difficult to predict and is dependent on the specific characteristics of our current in-force book (including the credit score of the borrower, the loan-to-value ratio of the mortgage, geographic concentrations, etc.), as well as the profile of new business we write in the future. In addition, the default rate and the average reserve per default will be affected by future macroeconomic factors such as housing prices, interest rates and employment.

Other Underwriting and Operating Expenses

Our other underwriting and operating expenses include components that are substantially fixed, as well as expenses that generally increase or decrease in line with the level of NIW or premiums.

Our most significant expense is compensation and benefits for our employees, which represented 67% of other underwriting and operating expenses for each of the three and six months ended June 30, 2014, compared to 67% and 65% of other underwriting and operating expenses for the three and six months ended June 30, 2013, respectively. Compensation and benefits expense includes base and incentive cash compensation, stock compensation expense, benefits and payroll taxes. Compensation and benefits expense has increased as we have increased our staffing from 209 employees at January 1, 2013 to 323 at June 30, 2014, primarily in our business development and operations functions to support the growth of our business. The growth in our sales organization contributed to the growth of our active customers and NIW. We also expanded our underwriting and customer service teams to support this new business.

Underwriting and other expenses also include legal, consulting, other professional fees, premium taxes, depreciation and amortization, travel, entertainment, marketing, licensing, supplies, hardware, software, rent, utilities and other expenses.

We anticipate that as we continue to add customers and increase our IIF, our expenses will also continue to increase. In addition, as a result of the increase in our IIF, we expect that our net premiums earned will grow faster than our underwriting and other expenses, resulting in a decline in our expense ratio. Further, we expect to incur incremental costs related to being a public company, including certain operating and compensation expenses.

Income Taxes

Income taxes are incurred based on the amount of earnings or losses generated in the jurisdictions in which we operate and the applicable tax rates and regulations in those jurisdictions. To date, substantially all of our business activity has been conducted in the United States where we are subject to corporate level Federal income taxes. Our U.S. insurance subsidiaries are generally not subject to income taxes in the states in which we operate; however, our non-insurance subsidiaries are subject to state income taxes. In lieu of state income taxes, our insurance subsidiaries pay premium taxes that are recorded in other underwriting and operating expenses. The amount of income tax expense or benefit recorded in future periods will be dependent on the jurisdictions in which we operate and the tax laws and regulations in effect. In 2014, since substantially all of our earnings are expected to be generated in the United States, we anticipate that our effective tax rate will approach the federal statutory tax rate. Beginning in 2015, we expect an increasing portion of our consolidated earnings will be generated in Bermuda and accordingly expect that our effective tax rate will decline below the federal statutory tax rate.

Essent Group Ltd. and its wholly owned subsidiary, Essent Re, are domiciled in Bermuda, which does not have a corporate income tax. Through June 30, 2014, these entities have incurred expenses and generated limited amounts of investment income. In July 2014, Essent Re entered into an insurance transaction with Freddie Mac and expects to enter into a quota share reinsurance transaction with Essent Guaranty, an affiliate, to reinsure 25% of Essent Guaranty's GSE-eligible NIW effective July 1, 2014. Completion of this transaction is subject to approval by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department.

Since inception and prior to June 30, 2013, we recorded a valuation allowance against deferred tax assets, and, as such, we generally did not record a benefit associated with the losses incurred in prior periods or other income tax benefits. The income tax provision or benefit recognized in prior periods related to changes in our valuation allowance associated with changes in deferred tax liabilities resulting from the increase or decrease in the unrealized gain on our investment portfolio. At June 30, 2013, after weighing all of the evidence, we concluded that it was more likely than not that our deferred tax assets would be realized. As a result, in 2013, we released the valuation allowance on our deferred tax assets.

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Mortgage Insurance Earnings and Cash Flow Cycle

In general, the majority of any underwriting profit (premium revenue minus losses) that a book generates occurs in the early years of the book, with the largest portion of any underwriting profit realized in the first year. Subsequent years of a book generally result in modest underwriting profit or underwriting losses. This pattern generally occurs because relatively few of the claims that a book will ultimately experience typically occur in the first few years of the book, when premium revenue is highest, while subsequent years are affected by declining premium revenues, as the number of insured loans decreases (primarily due to loan prepayments), and increasing losses.

Key Performance Indicators

Insurance In Force

As discussed above, premiums we collect and earn are generated based on our IIF, which is a function of our NIW and cancellations. The following table includes a summary of the change in our IIF for the three and six months ended June 30, 2014 and 2013. In addition, this table includes our risk in force, or RIF, at the end of each period and the number of customers that purchased new mortgage insurance policies during each respective period.

                                      Three Months Ended June 30,        Six Months Ended June 30,
($ in thousands)                         2014              2013             2014             2013
IIF, beginning of period            $    34,778,057    $ 17,430,810    $   32,028,196    $ 13,628,980
NIW                                       5,874,334       5,895,127         9,504,907      10,216,683
Cancellations                            (1,272,512 )      (749,637 )      (2,153,224 )    (1,269,363 )
IIF, end of period                  $    39,379,879    $ 22,576,300    $   39,379,879    $ 22,576,300
Average IIF during the period       $    36,973,455    $ 19,922,431    $   35,216,295    $ 17,753,344
RIF, end of period                  $     9,700,549    $  5,348,917    $    9,700,549    $  5,348,917
Number of customers generating
NIW during the period                           716             503               791             557

Our cancellation activity is relatively low because the average age of our insurance portfolio is young. The following is a summary of our IIF at June 30, 2014 by vintage:

($ in thousands)              $           %
2014 (through June 30)   $  9,380,046    23.8 %
2013                       19,547,594    49.7
2012                        8,832,491    22.4
2011                        1,527,938     3.9
2010                           91,810     0.2
                         $ 39,379,879   100.0 %

Average Premium Rate

Our average premium rate is dependent on a number of factors, including: (1) the risk characteristics and average coverage on the mortgages we insure; (2) the mix of monthly premiums compared to single premiums in our portfolio;
(3) cancellations of non-refundable single premium policies during the period; and (4) changes to our pricing.

The following table outlines our average premium rate, which reflects net premiums earned as a percentage of average IIF, for the periods presented:

                                       Three Months Ended June 30,        Six Months Ended June 30,
($ in thousands)                          2014              2013             2014             2013
Net premiums earned                  $        50,342    $     27,481    $       95,092    $     48,745
Average IIF during the period        $    36,973,455    $ 19,922,431    $   35,216,295    $ 17,753,344
Average premium rate (annualized)               0.54 %          0.55 %            0.54 %          0.55 %

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Persistency Rate

The measure for assessing the impact of policy cancellations on IIF is our persistency rate, defined as the percentage of IIF that remains on our books after any twelve-month period. See additional discussion regarding the impact of the persistency rate on our performance in "- Factors Affecting Our Results of Operations - Persistency and Business Mix."

Risk to Capital

The risk to capital ratio is frequently used as a measure of capital adequacy in the mortgage insurance industry and is calculated as a ratio of net risk in force to statutory capital. Net risk in force represents total risk in force net of reinsurance ceded and net of exposures on policies for which loss reserves have been established. Statutory capital is computed based on accounting practices prescribed or permitted by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department. See additional discussion in "- Liquidity and Capital Resources - Risk to Capital."

As of June 30, 2014, our combined net risk in force was $9.7 billion and our combined statutory capital was $599.9 million, resulting in a risk to capital ratio of 16.2 to 1. The amount of capital required varies in each jurisdiction in which we operate; however, generally, the maximum permitted risk to capital ratio is 25.0 to 1. State insurance regulators and, as discussed in "- Liquidity and Capital Resources - Private Mortgage Insurer Eligibility Requirements" below, the GSEs are currently examining their respective capital rules to determine whether, in light of the recent financial crisis, changes are needed to more accurately assess mortgage insurers' ability to withstand stressful economic conditions. As a result, the capital metrics under which they assess and measure capital adequacy may change in the future. Independent of the state regulator and GSE capital requirements, management continually assesses the risk of our insurance portfolio and current market and economic conditions to determine the appropriate levels of capital to support our business.

During the three months and six month periods ended June 30, 2014, capital contributions of $40 million and $75 million, respectively, were made by Essent Group Ltd. to our U.S. insurance subsidiaries. During the three and six month periods ended June 30, 2013, capital contributions of $70 million and $120 million, respectively, were made to our U.S. insurance subsidiaries.

Results of Operations

The following table sets forth our results of operations for the periods

Summary of Operations                 Three Months Ended June 30,          Six Months Ended June 30,
($ in thousands)                         2014              2013              2014             2013
Net premiums written                $       63,505    $       44,923    $      115,697    $      78,296
Increase in unearned premiums              (13,163 )         (17,442 )         (20,605 )        (29,551 )
Net premiums earned                         50,342            27,481            95,092           48,745
Net investment income                        3,080             1,014             4,978            1,744
Realized investment gains, net                  68                83               468               93
. . .
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