Top 5 Insurance Companies To Watch For 2014


Southeast regional bank BB&T (NYSE:BBT) definitely got the memo this quarter about the themes being higher fee income and lower credit costs. Unfortunately, BB&T also had significantly higher non-operating expenses and a little more covered loan run-off than expected, leading to pretty uninspiring operating profit performance. BB&T should be in a good position to benefit from the above-average population and economic growth expected in the southeast part of the U.S., but it’s hard to call the shares a screaming bargain at today’s price.


Sharp Cross-Currents In Q2 Results
Although BB&T’s bottom line reported results looked relatively sound compared to analyst expectations, there were a lot of surprising cross-currents in the details. All told, there was nothing particularly alarming about BB&T’s results and the company’s core/intrinsic growth and profitability look pretty good.

SEE: Bank Of America Brings The Growth

Revenue rose 1% from the year-ago period and about 2% on a sequential basis, good for a roughly 4% beat compared to expectations. Net interest income was down slightly on a sequential basis due in large part to covered loan run-off, as net interest margin erosion wasn’t as bad as expected (down 6bp sequentially, or 3bp on a core basis). On a core basis, BB&T’s net interest margin of 3.4% compares pretty well with U.S. Bancorp’s (NYSE:USB) 3.43%, Wells Fargo’s (NYSE:WFC) 3.46%, Comerica’s (NYSE:CMA) 2.83%, Fifth Third’s (Nasdaq:FITB) 3.33%, and PNC’s (NYSE:PNC) 3.58%.


BB&T also did quite well with its fee-generating businesses, as adjusted income rose about 7% here sequentially. Mortgage banking was a headwind as expected (down about 7%), but BB&T saw strong contributions from its large insurance operations (nearly 40% of fee income).

Where things got shaky was at the expense line. Expenses jumped 5% sequentially and were considerably higher than expected. That said, a lot of this increase was due to resubmitting the company’s CCAR capital plan and preparing for future spending cuts. Moreover, while BB&T’s efficiency ratio was inferior to U.S. Bancorp, even this quarter of elevated expenses left BB&T’s efficiency ratio pretty good compared to other regionals/money centers like Wells Fargo and PNC.


SEE: A Look At Corporate Profit Margins

Top 5 Insurance Companies To Watch For 2014: Iamgold Corporation(IAG)

IAMGOLD Corporation, together with its subsidiaries, engages in the exploration, development, and production of mineral resource properties worldwide. It primarily explores for gold, silver, zinc, copper, niobium, diamonds, and other metals. The company holds interests in eight operating gold mines, a niobium producer, a diamond royalty, and exploration and development projects located in Africa and the Americas. Its advanced exploration and development projects include the Westwood project in Canada; and the Quimsacocha project, which consists of 3 mining concessions covering an aggregate area of approximately 8,030 hectares in Ecuador. The company was formerly known as IAMGOLD International African Mining Gold Corporation and changed its name to IAMGOLD Corporation in June 1997. IAMGOLD Corporation was founded in 1990 and is based in Toronto, Canada.


Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Christopher Barker]

    Although I have not shed my long-standing contention that Yamana Gold offers one of the more deeply discounted vehicles for long-term gold exposure, lately my outlook for IAMGOLD has turned particularly bullish. With a looming spin-off of a 10% to 20% stake in the company’s reliably profitable Niobec niobium mine, and the recent sale of its interest in a pair of high-cost gold operations in Ghana for $667 million, IAMGOLD finds itself in terrific financial shape to execute an aggressive $1.2 billion expansion imitative at existing operations.


    Considering the $1.6 billion net asset value (after tax) that IAMGOLD recently assessed for the Niobec mine alone, and a presumed hoard of more than $1.2 billion (in cash, cash equivalents, and gold bullion held for investment), at a market capitalization of $6.9 billion I find extreme comfort in the market’s resulting valuation for IAMGOLD’s 15.2 million ounces of attributable gold reserves.

Top 5 Insurance Companies To Watch For 2014: American International Group Inc.(AIG)

American International Group, Inc. is an international insurance organization. The company operates property and casualty insurance networks worldwide and conducts activities in the U.S. life insurance and retirement services industry. It also involves in commercial aircraft leasing and residential mortgage guaranty insurance businesses. The company, through Chartis Inc., provides various property and casualty insurance products under commercial and consumer categories worldwide. These products include surplus lines, executive liability/directors? and officers? liability, employment practices, excess casualty, and travel/assistance lines. American International Group, through SunAmerica Financial Group, offers a suite of life insurance and retirement products and services, including term life, universal life, accident and health, fixed and variable deferred annuities, fixed payout annuities, mutual funds, and financial planning products and services to individuals and grou ps in the United States. The company, through International Lease Finance Corporation, operates as an aircraft lessor that acquires commercial jet aircraft from various manufacturers and other parties, and leases those aircraft to airlines worldwide. It also sells aircraft from its fleet to other leasing companies, financial services companies, and airlines, as well as provides management services to third-party owners of aircraft portfolios. American International Group, through United Guaranty Corporation, issues residential mortgage guaranty insurance that covers mortgage lenders from the first loss for credit defaults on high loan-to-value conventional first-lien mortgages for the purchase or refinance of one- to four-family residences in the U.S. and internationally. The company was founded in 1967 and is based in New York, New York.


Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Dennis Slothower]

    American International Group is starting to look dirt cheap to this humble investment pro on a price to book value and price to cash flow basis. It is nice to know that I am not alone in my view as FAIRX has a 10% weighting in the name. AIG has grown book value to over $85 billion today from around $55 billion in 2008 while sporting a market cap of just $65 billion. Morningstar lists AIG’s forward P/E ratio at 10X and the stock makes up nearly 10% of Fairholme’s flagship mutual fund run by Bruce Berkowitz, arguably the king of Value Investing in today’s market.


    AIG covered calls are an interesting approach, as the May $35 calls can be sold against the stock for around 3.5% in monthly yield while allowing for meaningful appreciation in stock price over that period of time. Investors may also consider selling the January 2012 $35 put options instead of buying the stock directly for $5.2, although they will not be able to participate in the dividend yield. Personally, I think a "buy and hold", or a hedged position versus a short in the Russell 2000 makes a lot of sense given the margin of safety at AIG.

  • [By James K. Glassman]

    When American International Group (symbol: AIG) announced strong third-quarter results, CEO Robert Benmosche said the insurer might not buy back any more AIG shares held by the U.S., as it had earlier said it might. The stock sank on the news, but investors missed the bigger picture. AIG trades at about 50% of its book value of $69 per share, while its peers typically trade at about book value. AIG could eventually earn $6 per share and trade at, or close to, its rising book value

  • [By Andrew Feinberg]

    52-Week High: $37.67

    52-Week Low: $22.19


    Annual Revenue: $70.6 billion

    Projected 2013 Earnings Growth: -17.7% 

    When American International Group (symbol: AIG) announced strong third-quarter results, CEO Robert Benmosche said the insurer might not buy back any more AIG shares held by the U.S., as it had earlier said it might. The stock sank on the news, but investors missed the bigger picture. AIG trades at about 50% of its book value of $69 per share, while its peers typically trade at about book value. AIG could eventually earn $6 per share and trade at, or close to, its rising book value.

Top 10 High Tech Stocks To Buy For 2014: The Travelers Companies Inc.(TRV)


The Travelers Companies, Inc., through its subsidiaries, provides various commercial and personal property and casualty insurance products and services to businesses, government units, associations, and individuals primarily in the United States. The company operates in three segments: Business Insurance; Financial, Professional, and International Insurance; and Personal Insurance. The Business Insurance segment offers property and casualty products and services, such as commercial multi-peril, property, general liability, commercial auto, and workers? compensation insurance. It operates in six groups: Select Accounts, which serves small businesses; Commercial Accounts that serves mid-sized businesses; National Accounts, which serves large companies; Industry-Focused Underwriting that serves targeted industries; Target Risk Underwriting, which serves commercial businesses requiring specialized product underwriting, claims handling, and risk management services; and Special ized Distribution that offers products to customers through licensed wholesale, general, and program agents. The Financial, Professional, and International Insurance segment provides surety and financial liability coverage, which uses a credit-based underwriting process; and property and casualty products primarily in the United States., the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Canada. The Personal Insurance segment offers property and casualty insurance covering personal risks, primarily automobile and homeowners insurance to individuals. It distributes its products through independent agents, sponsoring organizations, joint marketing arrangements with other insurers, and direct marketing. The company was founded in 1853 and is based in New York, New York.


Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Jon C. Ogg]

    The Travelers Companies Inc. (NYSE: TRV) is expected to rise by only 7.6% to $77.26 in 2013. That would represent a 52-week high but this one also has a yield of 2.6%. We would note that the street high target is actually all the way up at $87.00 and shares are currently very close to all-time highs. This insurance provider and financial services giant is not tied into healthcare so it has been immune to some of the ongoing risks. Travelers held up rather well in the recession but many investors do not even know it i one of the 30 DJIA components.

Top 5 Insurance Companies To Watch For 2014: Sun Life Financial Inc.(SLF)


Sun Life Financial Inc., together with its subsidiaries, provides various life and health insurance, savings, investment management, retirement, and pension products and services to individuals and corporate customers. It offers individual life insurance policies, including individual term life, universal life, critical illness, disability, accident, and accidental death and dismemberment insurance policies; and group life insurance policies. The company also provides individual health insurance, long-term care insurance, group health benefits, dental benefits, and group insurance; and various individual and group annuity, retirement, and investment income products and services, such as mutual and pooled funds, variable and fixed annuities, savings, retirement and pension plans, and education savings. In addition, it offers asset management services for corporate retirement plans, separate accounts, public or government funds, and insurance company assets to institutional clients; and advisory services to individual investors. Further, the company provides run-off reinsurance services. Sun Life Financial Inc. distributes its products through direct sales agents, independent and managing general agents, financial intermediaries, broker-dealers, banks, pension and benefit consultants, and other third-party marketing organizations. The company operates primarily in Bermuda, Canada, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, the Philippines, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Sun Life Financial Inc. was founded in 1999 and is based in Toronto, Canada.

Top 5 Insurance Companies To Watch For 2014: MGIC Investment Corp (MTG)


MGIC Investment Corporation (MGIC), incorporated June 21, 1984, is a holding company and through wholly owned subsidiaries is a private mortgage insurer in the United States. As of December 31, 2012, its principal mortgage insurance subsidiaries, Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation (MGIC) and MGIC Indemnity Corporation (MIC), were each licensed in all 50 states of the United States, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. During the year ending December 31, 2012, the Company wrote new insurance in each of those jurisdictions in MGIC and/or MIC. The Company capitalized MIC to write new insurance in certain jurisdictions where MGIC no longer meets, and is unable to obtain a waiver of, those jurisdictions