Q1 2012 Earnings Call Transcript

Transcript Call Date 05/04/2012

Operator: Good morning, and thank you for holding. Welcome to Aon Plc's First Quarter Earnings Conference Call. At this time, all parties will be in a listen-only mode until the question-and-answer portion of today's call. If anyone has any objections, you may disconnect your line at this time.

I would also like to remind all parties that this call is being recorded and that it is important to note that some of the comments in today's call may constitute certain statements that are forward-looking in nature as defined by the Private Securities Reform Act of 1995. Such statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from historical results or those anticipated. Information concerning risk factors that could cause such differences are described in the press release covering our first quarter results, as well as having been posted on our website.

Now, it is my pleasure to turn the call over to Greg Case, President and CEO of Aon Plc. Sir, you may begin.

Gregory C. Case - President and CEO: Thanks very much and good morning everyone. Welcome to our first quarter conference call. Joining me here today is our CFO, Christa Davies.

Consistent with previous quarters I would like to cover three areas before turning the call over to Christa for further financial review, and would note that there are slides available on our website for you to follow along with our commentary today.

First is our performance against key metrics we communicate to shareholders, second is overall organic growth performance and third is continued areas of investment across Aon. On the first topic, our performance versus key metrics, each quarter we measure our performance against the three metrics we focus on achieving over the course of the year, grow organically, expand margins and increase earnings per share.

Turning to Slide 3, in the first quarter, organic revenue was 4% overall, reflecting the strongest rate of organic revenue growth since the second quarter of 2007 and the strength of our industry leading platform. Operating margin decreased 80 basis points driven primarily by significant investments we are making across our businesses to increase long-term growth. Finally, EPS was $0.98, including $0.06 of unfavorable impact from foreign currency.

Overall, our first quarter performance reflects improved organic revenue growth across our businesses as foreign currency movements and significant investments to drive greater long-term growth due to unfavorable impact on bottom line results.

While we are not satisfied with margin improvement and working capital management in the near term, we full anticipate improved performance in the second half of the year are on track with our long-term targets and have completed significant steps to position the firm for long-term growth, strong free cash flow generation and increased financial flexibility. As highlighted by the completed redomestication to London in early April.

Turning to Slide 4, on the second topic of growth, I want to spend the next few minutes discussing the quarter for both our segments. In Risk Solutions, overall organic revenue growth was 4%, with growth across every major business. As market related conditions continue to stabilize, we are driving a set of initiatives that are strengthening underlying performance and positioning our Risk Solutions segment for long-term growth and leverage to an improving economy, with management of our renewal book through client promise and retention rates of 90% or better on average highlighting strong client satisfaction. New business generation of over $220 million across our retail business with strong growth across many markets including China, Latin America, Italy, and New Zealand just to name a few, highlighting the strength of our global client serving capability. Investments in new product and service capabilities with the rollout of GRIP and Aon Broking and in our core treaty Reinsurance business net new business trends have now been positive for four consecutive quarters.

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