UK personal lines insurers will need to adjust their pricing models in response to the Financial Conduct Authority’s proposed remedies surrounding the pricing of policies for renewing customers, according to a new AM Best commentary.

The Best’s Commentary, “Strong Brands the Likely Winners of UK Insurance Pricing Review,” states that as insurers will need to increase the prices applied to new business to offset the impact of lower renewal premium on earnings, other aspects of their business profile will likely play an increasing role in the decision-making process of potential and established customers.

This suggests that brands currently enjoying high levels of recognition and customer satisfaction will be best positioned to take advantage as policyholders begin to take more notice of a company’s customer service levels, the experiences of other policyholders (expressed via online channels), and metrics such as claims approval ratios.

To access a complimentary copy of this commentary, please visit http://www3.ambest.com/bestweek/purchase.asp?record_code=302026.

AM Best is a global credit rating agency, news publisher and data analytics provider specialising in the insurance industry. Headquartered in the United States, the company does business in over 100 countries with regional offices in New York, London, Amsterdam, Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore and Mexico City. For more information, visit www.ambest.com.

Copyright © 2020 by A.M. Best Rating Services, Inc. and/or its affiliates. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

View source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20201014005665/en/

Contacts

William Keen-Tomlinson
Senior Financial Analyst
+44 20 7397 4395
will.keen-tomlinson@ambest.com

Catherine Thomas
Senior Director, Analytics
+44 20 7397 0281
catherine.thomas@ambest.com

Richard Banks
Director, Industry Research – EMEA
+44 20 7397 0322
richard.banks@ambest.com

Edem Kuenyehia
Director, Market Development & Communications
+44 20 7397 0280
edem.kuenyehia@ambest.com

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Even with its bankruptcy exit still not final, J.C. Penney is attracting new national brands to get ready for a holiday shopping season that’ll begin earlier than usual.



J. C. Penney at Collin Creek Mall in Plano last year during the holiday shopping season. That store is still open but is among the 150 stores closing soon.


© Staff Photographer/Nathan Hunsinger/The Dallas Morning News/TNS
J. C. Penney at Collin Creek Mall in Plano last year during the holiday shopping season. That store is still open but is among the 150 stores closing soon.

Penney’s new brands are mostly in its home department, which is where Americans have been spending money during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Plano-based Penney plans to exit bankruptcy this year so it has to stay in the game. It responded to Amazon Prime Day with its own Cyber Days Monday through Wednesday.

Retailers including Walmart, Target, Best Buy and others are moving up Black Friday discounts to compete with Prime Day. The two-day Prime Day was delayed from its usual mid-summer dates as even Amazon was overwhelmed with new demand from shoppers who were staying at home due to the coronavirus. This year, Amazon’s Tuesday and Wednesday U.S. sales are expected to exceed $6 billion, up from $4.4 billion last year, according to eMarketer.

In a statement, Penney CEO Jill Soltau said her team is “working to secure partnerships with new national brands and to expand our product offerings as part of our efforts to provide compelling merchandise and deliver an engaging shopping experience to our customers.” She has declined interview requests during the bankruptcy.

Among Penney’s new brands announced Monday are Schott Zwiesel wine glasses and Luminarc glassware, Cambridge flatware and Nordic Ware cookware. Those brands are also sold at specialty stores Williams-Sonoma, Sur La Table and Bed Bath & Beyond and direct competitor in the mall, Macy’s. New brands include Taste of Home cooking magazine bakeware, which is also sold at Macy’s and

Adds detail, context

LONDON, Oct 8 (Reuters)British tobacco company Imperial Brands IMB.L on Thursday forecast full-year net revenue to be broadly flat and in line with market estimates, as it works through the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The forecast is slightly above guidance provided at its half-year results, the maker of Gauloises and West cigarettes said in its first indication of performance under CEO Stefan Bomhard, who joined in July.

However, the company forecast earnings per share down around 6%, also in line with market expectations it said, due to increasing its provisions as a result of COVID-19-related additional COVID-19-related manufacturing costsand uncertainties.

Imperial said the pandemic has increased demand for tobacco, resulting in better-than-expected sales volumes.

Improvements were seen in key European markets and the United States, which helped offset weaker performance at duty-free shops and in some traditional summer tourist destinations.

Overall, the company expects tobacco net revenue up 1%. It expects sales of “next generation products,” including e-cigarettes, to fall 30%.

Imperial will report full-year results on Nov. 17, at which time it will announce the date of a capital markets event in the first quarter of 2021.

(Reporting by Martinne Geller; editing by Jason Neely)

((martinne.geller@thomsonreuters.com; +44 (0) 2075420797; Reuters Messaging: martinne.geller.reuters.com@reuters.net))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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Despite a relatively strong set of FQ1 numbers, I am concerned about the Conagra (NYSE:CAG) outlook on several fronts. Firstly, there will be some tough comparisons ahead as consumers eventually regain mobility, and the food at home tailwind fades. Secondly, I see the company’s low level of advertising reinvestment is negative for the future earnings outlook, especially with competitors stepping up investments in longer-term brand equity. At the current multiple, I don’t think CAG shares offer much in the way of long-term value.

Strong FQ1 Results Benefit from Packaged Food Tailwinds

CAG posted a better-than-expected set of FQ1 results, with EPS of $0.70 on the back of better-than-expected organic sales (+15.0%), significant gross margin expansion of c. 244 bps, and opex leverage.

Source: Conagra FQ1 Presentation Slides

The key to the quarter was continued demand for packaged foods through the pandemic, with retailer inventory restocking also providing a c. 600 bps benefit. The latter was reflected in Grocery & Snacks and Refrigerated & Frozen organic sales growth, which accelerated to +20.7% and 19.0%, respectively. Pricing trends also benefited from lower promotional activity in the quarter. On the other hand, foodservice trends remained under pressure, with organic sales down 20.3% due to lower away-from-home consumption.

Source: Conagra FQ1 Presentation Slides

While these are certainly very strong numbers, I do question the sustainability going forward. As both US retail segments were helped by a sizeable trade load that likely implies some front-loaded demand, I expect to see this reverse in the upcoming quarter. Additionally, top-line growth was also boosted by c. 70 bps from non-recurring trade accruals, implying a lower underlying growth trajectory.

Dissecting the Bottom-Line Strength

The bottom-line performance was also very commendable – gross margins reached 30.7%, above expectations on better volume leverage, and the trade spend accrual benefit. Meanwhile,

Progressive Corp.’s advertising team met several weeks ago to plan a coming commercial that shows the insurance giant’s pitchwoman, Flo, fleeing a bowling alley to help someone whose car was mangled by a falling basketball hoop.

A debate broke out on the video call over a sensitive issue: Should the characters in the spot be wearing masks?

It is the sort of discussion advertisers are having in 2020. Marketing is about telling consumers a story. For the better part of the year, companies have struggled to determine what story to tell and tone to strike—and whether spending on ads now is even a good idea—amid an unprecedented global health crisis.

Madison Avenue has always been mindful of the nation’s mood, airing patriotic ads during wartime and nostalgic spots with vintage jingles during recessions to remind consumers they have come through bad times before. Being in sync with the national psyche has been especially hard this year, given the unpredictability of the Covid-19 pandemic, anxiety over the coming presidential election and upheaval over racial justice and police brutality.

“It’s a perfect storm of disasters that advertisers have to navigate,” said ad-industry veteran Jeff Goodby, co-founder of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. “It’s different from anything that has ever come before.”

Some viewers expect to see cues about current events on the screen, such as actors practicing social distancing, while others want to escape from reality, Mr. Goodby said. Brands must figure out when it is right to comfort viewers and when to hard-sell them.

Some companies stuck to inspirational spots during the early days of the pandemic.

General Motors Co.

ran a spot showing a man helping load bundles of hay into a pickup and another man turning on the lights at a Chevy dealership.

Apple Inc.

relied on a montage of