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Wells Fargo upgrades RenaissanceRe, sees stronger earnings for reinsurer in 2020

Wells Fargo Securities analyst Elyse Greenspan upgraded her rating on RenaissanceRe Holdings Ltd. shares to "overweight" from "equal weight," citing several key tailwinds that could lead to stronger earnings for the company in 2020.

The analyst said the reinsurer is positioned to reap benefits from stronger retrocessional rates, which could rise 20% to 30% at Jan. 1, 2020; stronger earnings from the Tokio Millennium Re deal that might be above the expected run-rate of $100 million; and possible reserve releases from Typhoon Hagibis. Those three factors would add $1.79 to $3.30 to the analyst's previous EPS estimate for 2020.

RenaissanceRe is using a $15 billion insured loss estimate, comparable to the $7 billion to $16 billion range from catastrophe modeling agencies and lower implied range used by Japanese and Bermudan peers, Greenspan noted.

Additionally, RenaissanceRe will be able to capitalize on the best opportunities in the catastrophe reinsurance market, write more business as a market leader and be less dependent on purchasing retro at higher prices as other reinsurers with less capital flexibility, the analyst mentioned.

Greenspan maintained her EPS estimate at $8.38 for 2019 and raised her estimates to $15.30 from $14.30 for 2020 and to $16.15 from $15.45 for 2021. She adjusted her price target to $220 from $180, as against a Dec. 13 closing price of $194.80.