Best Insurance Stocks To Buy For 2015

Banks have been on the hot seat since the financial crisis in 2008 and continue to feel the pressure of increased regulations.  Financial institutions will face a revamped Volker rule which is scheduled to be approved by regulators on Tuesday December 10, 2013, and given recent stronger economic data could face a challenging interest rate environment.  The question is whether major financial institutions will benefit from higher rates and a yield curve which could continue to steepen in the near future.

The Volker rule is expected to be approved by regulators on Tuesday, December 10, 2013.  There are 5 agencies that need to adopt their own version of the rules, which is why this rule has taken time to integrate.  The new rule will place more restrictions on hedging portfolios, as well as, greater restriction on what is considered proprietary trading.  Proprietary trading is considered trading of funds of the bank for their own benefits which is difficult in some cases to compartmentalize.  For example, if a market maker takes on risks from a client that cannot be hedge immediately, will the Volker rule consider this position proprietary trading.

Best Insurance Stocks To Buy For 2015: Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKA)

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (Berkshire) is a holding company owning subsidiaries engaged in a number of diverse business activities. The Company is engaged in insurance businesses conducted on both a primary basis and a reinsurance basis. Berkshire also owns and operates a number of other businesses engaged in a variety of activities. On December 30, 2011, Medical Protective Corporation (MedPro) completed the acquisition of 100% of the Princeton Insurance Company, a professional liability insurer for healthcare providers based in Princeton, New Jersey. During the year ended December 31, 2011, Acme Building Brands (Acme) acquired the assets of Jenkins Brick Company, the brick manufacturer in Alabama. In September 2011, Berkshire acquired The Lubrizol Corporation (Lubrizol). In June 2011, the Company acquired Wesco Financial Corporation. In June 2012, Media General, Inc. sold 63 daily and weekly newspapers to World Media Enterprises, Inc., a subsidiary of Berkshire. In July 2012 , Berkshire’s The Lubrizol Corporation acquired Lipotec SA.

Insurance and Reinsurance Businesses

Berkshire’s insurance and reinsurance business activities are conducted through numerous domestic and foreign-based insurance entities. Berkshire’s insurance businesses provide insurance and reinsurance of property and casualty risks world-wide and also reinsure life, accident and health risks world-wide. Berkshire’s insurance underwriting operations are consisted of the sub-groups, including GEICO and its subsidiaries, General Re and its subsidiaries, Berkshire Hathaway Reinsurance Group and Berkshire Hathaway Primary Group. GEICO insurance subsidiaries include Government Employees Insurance Company, GEICO General Insurance Company, GEICO Indemnity Company and GEICO Casualty Company. These companies primarily offers private passenger automobile insurance to individuals in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In addition, GEICO insures mo torcycles, all-terrain vehicles, recreational vehicles and s! mall commercial fleets and acts as an agent for other insurers who offer homeowners, boat and life insurance to individuals. GEICO markets its policies primarily through direct response methods in which applications for insurance are submitted directly to the companies through the Internet or by telephone.

General Re Corporation (General Re) is the holding company of General Reinsurance Corporation (GRC) and its subsidiaries and affiliates. GRC’s subsidiaries include General Reinsurance AG, a international reinsurer based in Germany. General Re subsidiaries conduct business activities globally in 51 cities and provide insurance and reinsurance coverages throughout the world. General Re provides property/casualty insurance and reinsurance, life/health reinsurance and other reinsurance intermediary and risk management, underwriting management and investment management services.

Property/Casualty Reinsurance

General Re’s property/casu alty reinsurance business in North America is conducted through GRC. Property/casualty operations in North America are also conducted through 16 branch offices in the United States and Canada. Reinsurance activities are marketed directly to clients without involving a broker or intermediary. General Re’s property/casualty business in North America also includes specialty insurers (primarily the General Star and Genesis companies domiciled in Connecticut and Ohio). These specialty insurers underwrite primarily liability and workers’ compensation coverages on an excess and surplus basis and excess insurance for self-insured programs. General Re’s international property/casualty reinsurance business operations are conducted through internationally-based subsidiaries on a direct basis (through General Reinsurance AG, as well as several other General Re subsidiaries in 25 countries) and through brokers (primarily through Faraday, which owns the managing agent of Syndicate 4 35 at Lloyd’s of London and provides capacity and particip! ates in 1! 00% of the results of Syndicate 435).

Life/Health Reinsurance

General Re’s North American and international life, health, long-term care and disability reinsurance coverages are written on an individual and group basis. Most of this business is written on a proportional treaty basis, with the exception of the United States group health and disability business which is predominately written on an excess treaty basis. Lesser amounts of life and disability business are written on a facultative basis. The life/health business is marketed on a direct basis. The Berkshire Hathaway Reinsurance Group (BHRG) operates from offices located in Stamford, Connecticut. Business activities are conducted through a group of subsidiary companies, led by National Indemnity Company (NICO) and Columbia Insurance Company (Columbia). BHRG provides principally excess and quota-share reinsurance to other property and casualty insurers and reinsurers. BHRG’s underwriting activities also include life reinsurance and life annuity business written through Berkshire Hathaway Life Insurance Company of Nebraska and financial guaranty insurance written through Berkshire Hathaway Assurance Corporation.

BHRG writes catastrophe excess-of-loss treaty reinsurance contracts. BHRG also writes individual policies for primarily large or otherwise unusual discrete risks on both an excess direct and facultative reinsurance basis, referred to as individual risk, which includes policies covering terrorism, natural catastrophe and aviation risks. A catastrophe excess policy provides protection to the counterparty from the accumulation of primarily property losses arising from a single loss event or series of related events. Catastrophe and individual risk policies may provide amounts of indemnification per contract and a single loss event may produce losses under a number of contracts. BHRG also underwrites traditional non-catastrophe insurance and reinsurance coverages, referred to as multi-line property/c! asualty b! usiness.

The Berkshire Hathaway Primary Group is a collection of primary insurance operations that provide a variety of insurance coverages to insureds located principally in the United States. NICO and certain affiliates underwrite motor vehicle and general liability insurance to commercial enterprises on both an admitted and excess and surplus basis. This business is written nationwide primarily through insurance agents and brokers and is based in Omaha, Nebraska. U.S. Investment Corporation (USIC), through its three subsidiaries led by United States Liability Insurance Company, is a specialty insurer that underwrites commercial, professional and personal lines of insurance on an admitted and excess and surplus basis. Policies are marketed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia through wholesale and retail insurance agents. USIC companies underwrite and market 109 distinct specialty property and casualty insurance products. Medical Protective Corporatio n (MedPro) is based in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Through its subsidiary, the Medical Protective Company, MedPro is engaged in primary medical professional liability coverage and risk solutions to physicians, dentists, other healthcare providers and healthcare facilities.

Railroad Business

Through BNSF Railway, BNSF operates a railroad network in North America with approximately 32,000 route miles of track (excluding multiple main tracks, yard tracks and sidings) in 28 states and two Canadian provinces as of December 31, 2011. BNSF owns approximately 23,000 route miles, including easements, and operates on approximately 9,000 route miles of trackage rights that permit BNSF to operate its trains with its crews over other railroads’ tracks. As of December 31, 2011, the total BNSF Railway system, including single and multiple main tracks, yard tracks and sidings, consisted of approximately 50,000 operated miles of track, all of which are owned by or held under easement by BNSF except for approximately 10,000 route! miles op! erated under trackage rights.

BNSF is based in Fort Worth, Texas, and through BNSF Railway Company operates railroad systems in North America. In serving the Midwest, Pacific Northwest, Western, Southwestern and Southeastern regions and ports of the country, BNSF transports a range of products and commodities derived from manufacturing, agricultural and natural resource industries. In serving the Midwest, Pacific Northwest, Western, Southwestern and Southeastern regions and ports of the country, BNSF transports a range of products and commodities derived from manufacturing, agricultural and natural resource industries. Over half of the freight revenues of BNSF are covered by contractual agreements of varying durations. BNSF’s primary routes, including trackage rights, allow it to access cities and ports in the western and southern United States as well as parts of Canada and Mexico. In addition to cities and ports, BNSF efficiently serves many smaller market s by working closely with approximately 200 shortline partners. BNSF has also entered into marketing agreements with other rail carriers, expanding the marketing reach for each railroad and their customers.

Utilities and Energy Businesses

MidAmerican’s businesses are managed as separate operating units. MidAmerican’s domestic regulated energy interests are comprised of two regulated utility companies serving more than three million retail customers and two interstate natural gas pipeline companies with approximately 16,600 miles of pipeline and a design capacity of approximately 7.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. Its United Kingdom electricity distribution subsidiaries serve about 3.9 million electricity end-users. In addition, MidAmerican’s interests include a diversified portfolio of domestic independent power projects, a hydroelectric facility in the Philippines and residential real estate brokerage firm in the United States.

PacifiCorp is a regulated electric utility compa! ny headqu! artered in Oregon, serving regulated retail electric customers in portions of Utah, Oregon, Wyoming, Washington, Idaho and California. The combined service territory’s diverse regional economy ranges from rural, agricultural and mining areas to urban, manufacturing and government service centers. As a vertically integrated electric utility, PacifiCorp owns approximately 10,600 net megawatts of generation capacity. MidAmerican Energy Company (MEC) is a regulated electric and natural gas utility company headquartered in Iowa, serving regulated retail electric and natural gas customers primarily in Iowa and also in portions of Illinois, South Dakota and Nebraska. MEC has a diverse customer base consisting of residential, agricultural and a variety of commercial and industrial customer groups. In addition to retail sales and natural gas transportation, MEC sells regulated electricity to markets operated by regional transmission organizations and regulated electricity and natur al gas to other utilities and market participants on a wholesale basis and sells non-regulated electricity and natural gas services in deregulated markets. As a vertically integrated electric and gas utility, MEC owns approximately 7,000 net megawatts of generation capacity.

The natural gas pipelines consist of Northern Natural Gas Company (Northern Natural) and Kern River Gas Transmission Company (Kern River). Northern Natural is based in Nebraska and owns interstate natural gas pipeline systems in the United States reaching from southern Texas to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Northern Natural’s pipeline system consists of approximately 14,900 miles of natural gas pipelines. Northern Natural has access to supplies from mid-continent basin and provides transportation services to utilities and numerous other customers. Northern Natural also operates three underground natural gas storage facilities and two liquefied natural gas storage peaking units.

< p>Kern River is based in Utah and owns an interstate natural! gas pipe! line system that consists of approximately 1,700 miles and extends from the supply areas in the Rocky Mountains to consuming markets in Utah, Nevada and California. Kern River transports natural gas for electric utilities and natural gas distribution utilities, oil and natural gas companies or affiliates of such companies, electricity generating companies, energy marketing and trading companies, and financial institutions. The United Kingdom utilities consist of Northern Powergrid (Northeast) Limited (Northern Powergrid (Northeast)) and Northern Powergrid (Yorkshire) plc (Northern Powergrid (Yorkshire)), which own a substantial United Kingdom electricity distribution network that delivers electricity to end-users in northeast England in an area covering approximately 10,000 square miles. The distribution companies primarily charge supply companies regulated tariffs for the use of electrical infrastructure. MidAmerican also owns HomeServices of America, Inc. (HomeServices), a full-service residential real estate brokerage firm in the United States. HomeServices also offers integrated real estate services, including mortgage originations through a joint venture, title and closing services, property and casualty insurance, home warranties, relocation services and other home-related services. It operates under 22 residential real estate brand names with over 14,000 sales associates and in nearly 300 brokerage offices in 20 states.

Manufacturing, Service and Retailing Businesses

Berkshire’s numerous and diverse manufacturing, service and retailing businesses. Marmon consists of approximately 140 manufacturing and service businesses that operate independently within eleven diverse, stand-alone business sectors. These sectors are Building Wire, Crane Services, Distribution Services, Engineered Wire and Cable, Flow Products, Food Service Equipment, Highway Technologies, Industrial Products, Retail Store Fixtures, Transporta tion Services and Engineered Products and Water Treatment.

!

Building Wire, providing copper electrical building wire for residential, commercial and industrial construction. Crane Services provides the leasing and operation of mobile cranes primarily to the energy, mining and petrochemical markets. Distribution Services, supplying specialty metal pipe and tubing, bar and sheet products to markets including construction, industrial, aerospace and many others. Engineered Wire & Cable, providing electrical and electronic wire and cable for energy related markets and other industries. Flow Products is producing copper tube for the plumbing, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), refrigeration, and industrial markets. Food Service Equipment is supplying commercial food preparation equipment for restaurants and shopping carts for retail stores. Highway Technologies, primarily serving the heavy-duty highway transportation industry with trailers, fifth wheel coupling devices and undercarriage products such as brake parts and s uspension systems, and also serving the light vehicle aftermarket with clutches and related products.

Industrial Products, consisting of metal fasteners for the building, furniture, cabinetry, industrial and other markets, gloves for industrial markets, portable lighting equipment for mining and safety markets, overhead electrification equipment for mass transit systems, custom-machined brass, aluminum and copper forgings for the construction, valve and other industries, brass fittings and valves for commercial and industrial applications, and drawn aluminum tubing and extruded aluminum shapes for the construction, automotive, appliance, medical and other markets . Retail Store Fixtures, providing shelving and other merchandising displays and related services for retail stores worldwide. Transportation Services & Engineered Products, including manufacturing, leasing and maintenance of railroad tank cars, leasing of intermodal tank containers, in-plant rail serv ices, manufacturing of bi-modal railcar movers, wheel, axle ! and gear ! sets for light rail transit and gear products for locomotives, manufacturing of steel tank heads, and services, equipment and technology for processing and distributing sulfur. Water Treatment, equipment including residential water softening, purification and refrigeration filtration systems, treatment systems for industrial markets including power generation, oil and gas, chemical, and pulp and paper, gear drives for irrigation systems and cooling towers, and air-cooled heat exchangers. Marmon operates approximately 300 manufacturing, distribution and service facilities that are primarily located in North America, Europe and China, and employs more than 16,000 people worldwide.

McLane Company, Inc. (McLane) provides wholesale distribution and logistics services in all 50 states and internationally in Brazil to customers that include discount retailers, convenience stores, wholesale clubs, quick service restaurants, drug stores and military bases. Operations are divided into five business units: grocery distribution, foodservice distribution, beverage distribution, international logistics and software development. McLane’s foodservice distribution unit, based in Carrollton, Texas, focuses on serving the quick service restaurant industry. Operations are conducted through 18 facilities in 16 states. The foodservice distribution unit services more than 20,000 chain restaurants nationwide.

Other Manufacturing, Other Service and Retailing Businesses

Berkshire’s apparel manufacturing businesses include manufacturers of a variety of clothing and footwear. Businesses engaged in the manufacture and distribution of clothing products include Fruit of the Loom, Inc. (Fruit), Russell Brands, LLC (Russell), Vanity Fair Brands, LP (VFB), Garan and Fechheimer Brothers. Berkshire’s footwear businesses include H.H. Brown Shoe Group, Justin Brands and Brooks Athletic. Fruit, Russell and VFB (together FOL) is primaril y a vertically integrated manufacturer and distributor of ba! sic appar! el, underwear and athletic apparel and products. Products, under the Fruit of the Loomand JERZEES labels are primarily sold in the mass merchandise and wholesale markets. In the VFB product line, Vassarette, Bestformand Curvationare sold in the mass merchandise market, while Vanity Fairand Lily of Franceproducts are sold in the mid-tier chains and department stores. FOL also markets and sells athletic uniforms, apparel, sports equipment and balls to team dealers; college licensed tee shirts and fleecewear to college bookstores and mid-tier merchants; and athletic apparel, sports equipment and balls to sporting goods retailers under the Russell Athleticand Spaldingbrands. Additionally, Spaldingmarkets and sells balls in the mass merchandise market and dollar store channel. During the year ended December, 31, 2011, approximately 30% of FOL’s sales were to Wal-Mart. FOL generally performs its own spinning, knitting, cloth finishing, cutting, sewing and packaging.

< p>Garan designs, manufactures, imports and sells apparel primarily for children, including boys, girls, toddlers and infants. Products are sold under its own trademark Garanimalsand private labels of its customers. Garan also licenses its registered trademark Garanimalsto independent third parties. Garan conducts its business through operating subsidiaries located in the United States, Central America and Asia. Substantially all of Garan’s products are sold through its distribution centers in the United States to national chain stores, department stores and specialty stores. In 2011, over 90% of Garan’s sales were to Wal-Mart. Fechheimer Brothers manufactures, distributes and sells uniforms, principally for the public service and safety markets, including police, fire, postal and military markets. Fechheimer Brothers is based in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Justin Brands and H.H. Brown Shoe Group manufacture and distribute work, rugged outdoor and casual shoes and wes tern-style footwear under a number of brand names, including! Justin, ! Tony Lama, Nocona, Chippewas, Born, Sofft, Carolina, Double-H Boots, Corcoran, Matterhornand Kork-Ease. Brooks Athletic markets and sells running footwear to specialty retailers under Brooksbrand. In 2011, Brooksachieved #1 market share in footwear with specialty retailers. A volume of the shoes sold by Berkshire’s shoe businesses are manufactured or purchased from sources outside the United States. Products are principally sold in the United States through a variety of channels including department stores, footwear chains, specialty stores, catalogs and the Internet, as well as through Company-owned retail stores.

Acme manufactures and distributes clay bricks (Acme Brickand Jenkins Brick), concrete block (Featherlite) and cut limestone (Texas Quarries). In addition, Acme distributes a number of other building products of other manufacturers, including glass block, floor and wall tile and other masonry products. Acme also sells ceramic floor and wall tile, as well as marble, granite and other stones through its subsidiary, American Tile and Stone. Products are sold primarily in the South Central and South Eastern United States through Company-operated sales offices. Acme distributes products primarily to homebuilders and masonry and general contractors.

Benjamin Moore & Co. (Benjamin Moore) is a formulator, manufacturer and retailer of a range of architectural coatings, available principally in the United States and Canada. Products include water-thinnable and solvent-thinnable general purpose coatings (paints, stains and clear finishes) for use by the general public, contractors and industrial and commercial users. Products are marketed under various registered brand names, including Regal, Superspec, Moorcraft, Moorgard, Aura, Nattura, ben, Coronado Paint, Insl-xand Lenmar.

Benjamin Moore and its manufacturing subsidiaries rely primarily on an independent dealer network for the distribution of its p roducts. Its distribution network includes approximately 100! Company-! owned stores as well as over 4,500 third party retailers representing over 10,300 storefronts in the United States and Canada. Benjamin Moore’s Company-owned stores represent several multiple-outlet and stand-alone retailers in various parts of the United States and Canada serving primarily contractors and general consumers. The independent retailer channel offers an array of products including Benjamin Mooreand Insl-xbrands and other competitor coatings, wallcoverings, window treatments and sundries. Benjamin Moore also has three color stations located in regional malls that serve as brand marketing tools. In addition to the independent retailer channel, Benjamin Moore has recently begun to sell direct to the consumer through e-commerce sites and its customer care program, which includes national accounts and government agencies.

Johns Manville (JM) is a manufacturer and marketer of products for building insulation, mechanical insulation, commercial roofing and roof insulation, as well as fibers and nonwovens for commercial, industrial and residential applications. JM serves markets that include aerospace, automotive and transportation, air handling, appliance, HVAC, pipe and equipment filtration, waterproofing, building, flooring, interiors and wind energy. Fiber glass is the basic material in a majority of JM’s products, although JM also manufactures a portion of its products with other materials to satisfy the broader needs of its customers. JM regards its patents and licenses as valuable, however it does not consider any of its businesses to be materially dependent on any single patent or license. JM is headquartered in Denver, Colorado, and operates 40 manufacturing facilities in North America, Europe and China and conducts research and development at several other facilities. JM sells its products through a variety of channels, including contractors, distributors, retailers, manufacturers and fabricators.

MiTek is a provider of engineered connector products, engine! ering sof! tware and services and computer-driven manufacturing machinery to the truss fabrication segment of the building components industry. Primary customers are truss fabricators who manufacture pre-fabricated roof and floor trusses and wall panels for the residential building market, as well as the light commercial and institutional construction industry. MiTek also participates in the light gauge steel framing market under the Ultra-Spanname, manufactures and markets assembly line machinery used by the lead acid battery industry, manufactures and markets a line of masonry connector products and manufactures and markets air handling systems used in commercial building. MiTek operates on six continents with sales into approximately 90 countries. MiTek has 34 manufacturing facilities located in eleven countries and 45 sales/engineering offices located in 17 countries.

The Shaw Industries Group, Inc. (Shaw) is a carpet manufacturer based on both revenue and volume of p roduction. Shaw designs and manufactures over 3,000 styles of tufted carpet, tufted and woven rugs, laminate and wood flooring for residential and commercial use under about 30 brand and trade names and under certain private labels. Shaw also provides installation services and sells ceramic and vinyl tile along with sheet vinyl. Shaw’s manufacturing operations are fully integrated from the processing of raw materials used to make fiber through the finishing of carpet. Shaw’s carpet, rugs and hard surface products are sold in a broad range of prices, patterns, colors and textures.

Shaw products are sold wholesale to over 40,000 retailers, distributors and commercial users throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico and are also exported to various overseas markets. Shaw’s wholesale products are marketed domestically by over 2,000 salaried and commissioned sales personnel directly to retailers and distributors and to national accounts. Shaw’s 10 carpet full-service distribution facilities, three hard surface an! d two rug! full-service distribution facilities and 24 redistribution centers, along with centralized management information systems, enable it to provide prompt efficient delivery of its products to both its retail customers and wholesale distributors.

Berkshire acquired an 80% interest in IMC International Metalworking Companies B.V. (IMC B.V.). Through its subsidiaries, IMC B.V. is a multinational manufacturers of consumable precision carbide metal cutting tools for applications in a range of industrial end markets under the brand names ISCAR, TaeguTec, Ingersoll, Tungaloy, Unitac, UOP It.te.diand Outiltec. IMC B.V.’s manufacturing facilities are located in Israel, United States, Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland, South Korea, China, India, Japan and Brazil. IMC B.V. has five primary product lines: milling tools, gripping tools, turning/thread tools, drilling tools and tooling. Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is a manufacturer of recreational vehicles, utility, cargo and office trailers, buses and pontoon boats, headquartered in Elkhart, Indiana. Its products are sold in the United States and Canada through an independent dealer network.

Scott Fetzer companies are a diversified group of 20 businesses that manufacture and distribute a variety of products for residential, industrial and institutional use. The two of these businesses are Kirby home cleaning systems and Campbell Hausfeld products. Albecca Inc. (Albecca), headquartered in Norcross, Georgia, does business primarily under the Larson-Juhlname. Albecca designs, manufactures and distributes a complete line of branded custom framing products, including wood and metal moulding, matboard, foamboard, glass, equipment and other framing supplies in the United States, Canada and 15 countries outside of North America. CTB International Corp. is a designer, manufacturer and marketer of systems used in the grain industry and in the production of poultry, hogs and eggs.

Lubrizol is a specialty chemical company that pro! duces and! supplies technologies for the global transportation, industrial and consumer markets. Lubrizol operates two business sectors: Lubrizol Additives, which includes engine, driveline and industrial additive products and Lubrizol Advanced Materials, which includes personal and home care, engineered polymer and performance coating products. FlightSafety International Inc.(FlightSafety) is engaged primarily in the business of providing high technology training to operators of aircraft. FlightSafety’s training activities include advanced training for pilots of business and commercial aircraft; aircrew training for military and other government personnel; aircraft maintenance technician training; flight attendant and aircraft dispatcher training, and ab-initio (primary) pilot training to qualify individuals for private and commercial pilots’ licenses. FlightSafety also develops classroom instructional systems and materials for use in its training business and for sale to others.

NetJets Inc. (NJ) is a provider of fractional ownership programs for general aviation aircraft. TTI, Inc. (TTI) is a global specialty distributor of passive, interconnect, electromechanical and discrete components used by customers in the manufacturing and assembling of electronic products. Business Wire provides electronic dissemination of full-text news releases daily to the media, online services and databases and the global investment community in 150 countries and 45 languages. Berkshire’s retailing businesses principally consist of several independently managed home furnishings and jewelry operations. The home furnishings businesses are the Nebraska Furniture Mart (NFM), R.C. Willey Home Furnishings (R.C. Willey), Star Furniture Company (Star) and Jordan’s Furniture, Inc. (Jordan’s). NFM, R.C. Willey, Star and Jordan’s each offer a wide selection of furniture, bedding and accessories. In addition, NFM and R.C. Willey sell a line of household appl iances, electronics, computers and other home furnishings. N! FM, R.C. ! Willey, Star and Jordan’s also offer customer financing to complement their retail operations. An important feature of each of these businesses is their ability to control costs and to produce high business volume by offering value to their customers.

NFM operates its business from two retail complexes with almost one million square feet of retail space and sizable warehouse and administrative facilities in Omaha, Nebraska and Kansas City, Kansas. NFM is a furniture retailer in each of its markets. NFM also owns Homemakers Furniture located in Des Moines, Iowa, which has approximately 215,000 square feet of retail space. R.C. Willey, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, is a home furnishings retailer in the Intermountain West region of the United States. R.C. Willey operates 11 retail stores, two retail clearance facilities and three distribution centers. Borsheim Jewelry Company, Inc. (Borsheims) operates from a single store located in Omaha, Nebraska. Borsheims i s a high volume retailer of jewelry, watches, crystal, china, stemware, flatware, gifts and collectibles. Helzberg’s Diamond Shops, Inc. (Helzberg), based in North Kansas City, Missouri, operates a chain of 233 retail jewelry stores in 37 states, which includes approximately 550,000 square feet of retail space. Most of Helzberg’s stores are located in malls, lifestyle centers or power strip centers, and all stores operate under the name Helzberg Diamonds. The Ben Bridge Corporation (Ben Bridge Jeweler), based in Seattle, Washington, operates a chain of 70 upscale retail jewelry stores located in 11 states that are primarily in the Western United States. Three of its locations are concept stores that sell only PANDORA jewelry.

Finance and Financial Products

Clayton Homes, Inc. (Clayton) is a vertically integrated manufactured housing company. At December 31, 2011, Clayton operated 33 manufacturing plants in 12 states. Clayton’s homes are marke ted in 48 states through a network of 1,333 retailers, inclu! ding 333 ! Company-owned home centers. Financing is offered through its finance subsidiaries to purchasers of Clayton’s manufactured homes as well as those purchasing homes from selected independent retailers. XTRA Corporation (XTRA), headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, is a transportation equipment lessor operating under the XTRA Leasebrand name. XTRA manages a diverse fleet of approximately 83,000 units located at 63 facilities throughout the United States and two facilities in Canada. The fleet includes over-the-road and storage traile

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Tiernan Ray]

    Berkshire B shares ended the day at $117.82 and were up another 68 cents, or 0.6%, at $118.50, in late trading. The Class A stock (BRKA) closed at $176,500 and were up another $250.04 at $176,750 after hours.

  • [By WALLSTCHEATSHEET]

    Berkshire Hathaway is a well-regarded investment manager that has been led by Warren Buffett to great successes. The stock has risen consistently over the last several years and is now trading at all-time high prices. Earnings and revenue have shown steady growth, over the last four quarters, which has really pleased investors. Relative to its peers and sector, Berkshire Hathaway has been a year-to-date performance leader. Look for Berkshire Hathaway to OUTPERFORM.

Best Insurance Stocks To Buy For 2015: 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’ minimum capital requirements. Private mortgage insurance covers losses from homeowner defaults on residential mortgage loans, reducing and, in some instances, eliminating the loss to the insured institution if the homeowner defaults.

Mortgage Insurance

Primary insurance provides mortgage default protection on individual loans and covers unpaid loan principal, delinquent interest and certain expenses associated with the default and subsequent foreclosure. Primary insurance is written on first mortgage loans secured by owner occupied single-family homes, which are one-to-four family homes and condominiums. Primary insurance is also written on first liens secured by non-owner occupied single-family homes, which are referred to in the home mortgage lending industry as investor loans, and on vacation or second homes. Primary coverage can be used on any type of residential mortgage loan instrument approved by the mortgage insurer.

When a borrower refinances a mortgage loan insured by the Company by paying it off in full with the proceeds of a new mortgage that is also insured by it, the insurance on that existing mortgage is cancelled, and insurance on the new mortgage is considered to be new primary i nsurance written. Therefore, continuation of its coverage fr! om a refinanced loan to a new loan results in both a cancellation of insurance and new insurance written. When a lender and borrower modify a loan rather than replace it with a new one, or enter into a new loan pursuant to a loan modification program, its insurance continues without being cancelled assuming that the Company consent to the modification or new loan.

The borrower’s mortgage loan instrument requires the borrower to pay the mortgage insurance premium. There are several payment plans available to the borrower, or lender, as the case may be. Under the monthly premium plan, the borrower or lender pays it a monthly premium payment to provide only one month of coverage. Under the annual premium plan, an annual premium is paid to it in advance, and it earns and recognizes the premium over the next 12 months of coverage, with annual renewal premiums paid in advance thereafter and earned over the subsequent 12 months of coverage. Under the single premium p lan, the borrower or lender pays it a single payment covering a specified term exceeding twelve months.

Pool insurance is used as an additional credit enhancement for certain secondary market mortgage transactions. Pool insurance covers the excess of the loss on a defaulted mortgage loan which exceeds the claim payment under the primary coverage, if primary insurance is required on that mortgage loan, as well as the total loss on a defaulted mortgage loan which did not require primary insurance. Pool insurance is used as an additional credit enhancement for certain secondary market mortgage transactions. Pool insurance covers the excess of the loss on a defaulted mortgage loan, which exceeds the claim payment under the primary coverage, if primary insurance is required on that mortgage loan, as well as the total loss on a defaulted mortgage loan which did not require primary insurance. In general, the loans insured by it in Wall Street bulk transactions consiste d of loans with reduced underwriting documentation; cash out! refinanc! es, which exceed the standard underwriting requirements of the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) (collectively GSEs); A- loans; subprime loans, and jumbo loans.

Other Products and Services

The Company has participated in risk sharing arrangements with the GSEs and captive mortgage reinsurance arrangements with subsidiaries of certain mortgage lenders, which reinsure a portion of the risk on loans originated or serviced by the lenders, which have MGIC primary insurance. It provides information regarding captive mortgage reinsurance arrangements to the New York Department of Insurance (known as the New York Department of Financial Services), the Minnesota Department of Commerce and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, (HUD). It performs contract underwriting services for lenders, in which it judges whether the data relating to the borrower and the loan contained in the lender’s mortgage loan application file comply with the lender’s loan underwriting guidelines. It also provides an interface to submit data to the automated underwriting systems of the GSEs, which independently judge the data. These services are provided for loans, which require private mortgage insurance, as well as for loans that do not require private mortgage insurance. It provides mortgage services for the mortgage finance industry, such as portfolio retention and secondary marketing of mortgages.

The Company competes with Federal Housing Administration, Veterans Administration, PMI Mortgage Insurance Company, Genworth Mortgage Insurance Corporation, United Guaranty Residential Insurance Company, Radian Guaranty Inc., CMG Mortgage Insurance Company, and Essent Guaranty, Inc.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By George Putnam]

    George Putnam: Sure. Well, MGIC Investment Corp. (MTG), which insures mortgages—residential mortgages—was really hammered back in 2007, 2008, and it struggled to, sort of, dig out of the hole that it got in from all of the defaults that individual homeowners made on their mortgages.

  • [By Jon C. Ogg]

    MGIC Investment Corp. (NYSE: MTG) made the move to the Conviction Buy List on December 5, with a $10 price target. The company is benefiting from a solid improvement in credit and mortgage quality. With shares close to $8.40 now, the consensus price target is $8.81 and the 52-week trading range is $1.92 to $8.59. We noticed that the $10 price target is well under the street-high target of $13 on this stock.

  • [By Amanda Alix]

    Hot on the heels of a $15 million Consumer Financial Protection Bureau settlement with mortgage insurers Genworth Financial (NYSE: GNW  ) , MGIC Investment (NYSE: MTG  ) , Radian Group (NYSE: RDN  ) , and United Guaranty, a subsidiary of AIG (NYSE: AIG  ) , over kickbacks paid to banks for mortgage insurance, comes some bad news in the same vein — this time, for Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) .

  • [By Paul Ausick]

    Big Earnings Movers: Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) is up 2.3% at $14.56 on decent results. MGIC Investment Corp. (NYSE: MTG) is up 14.9% at $8.34. PepsiCo Inc. (NYSE: PEP) is up 2.1% at $82.27 on better snack sales. Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) is up 1.3% at $23.68 on modest results. Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO) is down 0.9% at $33.09 and probably deserves more love than it’s getting.

Best Insurance Stocks To Buy For 2015: Muenchener Rueckversicherungs Gesellschaft AG in Muenchen (MUV2)

Muenchener Rueckversicherungs Gesellschaft AG in Muenchen is a Germany-based holding company engaged in reinsurance and insurance business fields. The Company diversifies its operations into reinsurance, primary insurance, Munich Health and Asset management. The Reinsurance business comprises five divisions: Life; Europe and Latin America; Germany, Asia Pacific and Africa; Special and Financial Risks, and Global Clients and North America. The business covers a range of products from traditional reinsurance products to solutions for risk assumption. The Company’s primary insurance activities are combined into the ERGO Insurance Group (ERGO) and offers direct insurance, life, property-casualty, health, legal expenses and travel insurance products. It covers the Company’s international health reinsurance business and health primary insurance outside Germany and engages the risk management services. The Asset management business handles the investment activities of Munich Re and ERGO. Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Jonathan Morgan]

    Munich Re (MUV2), the world’s biggest reinsurer, dropped 4.9 percent to 145.25 euros after it said second-quarter profit fell 35 percent, missing analysts’ estimates, as claims arising from natural disasters rose. Net income dropped to 529 million euros from 808 million euros a year earlier, trailing the 557.1 million-euro average estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Best Insurance Stocks To Buy For 2015: Allstate Corp (ALS)

The Allstate Corporation (Allstate), November 5, 1992, is a holding company for Allstate Insurance Company. The Company’s business is conducted principally through Allstate Insurance Company, Allstate Life Insurance Company and their affiliates. It is engaged, principally in the United States, in the property-liability insurance, life insurance, retirement and investment product business. Allstate’s primary business is the sale of private passenger auto and homeowners insurance. The Company also sells several other personal property and casualty insurance products, select commercial property and casualty coverages, life insurance, annuities, voluntary accident and health insurance and funding agreements. Allstate primarily distributes its products through exclusive agencies, financial specialists, independent agencies, call centers and the Internet. It conducts its business primarily in the United States. Allstate has four business segments: Allstate Protection, Allstate Financial, Discontinued Lines and Coverages and Corporate and Other. The Company is a personal lines insurer in the United States. Customers can access Allstate products and services, such as auto insurance and homeowners insurance through nearly 12,000 exclusive Allstate agencies and financial representatives in the United States and Canada. In October 2011, the Company acquired Esurance and Answer Financial from White Mountains Insurance Group.

ALLSTATE PROTECTION SEGMENT

In this segment, the Company principally sells private passenger auto and homeowners insurance through agencies and directly through call centers and the Internet. These products are marketed under the Allstate, Encompass and Esurance brand names. The Allstate Protection segment also includes a separate organization called Emerging Businesses, which comprises Business Insurance (commercial products for small business owners), Consumer Household (specialty products including moto rcycle, boat, renters and condominium insurance policies), A! llstate Dealer Services (insurance and non-insurance products sold primarily to auto dealers), Allstate Roadside Services (retail and wholesale roadside assistance products) and Ivantage (insurance agency). The Company also participates in the involuntary or shared private passenger auto insurance business in order to maintain its licenses to do business in many states. In some states, Allstate exclusive agencies offer non-proprietary property insurance products. Allstate brand auto and homeowners insurance products are sold primarily through Allstate exclusive agencies and serve customers who prefer local personal advice and service and are brand-sensitive. In most states, customers can also purchase certain Allstate brand personal insurance products, and obtain service, directly through call centers and the Internet.

During the year ended December 31, 2011, total Allstate Protection premiums written were $25.98 billion. Its broad-based network of approximately 10,000 Allstate exclusive agencies in approximately 9,700 locations in the United States produced approximately 86% of the Allstate Protection segment’s written premiums in 2011. It provides personal property and casualty insurance products through independent agencies in the United States. Additionally, Allstate distribution, through brokering arrangements, offers non-proprietary products to consumers when an Allstate product is not available.

ALLSTATE FINANCIAL SEGMENT

Allstate Financial segment provides life insurance, retirement and investment products, and voluntary accident and health insurance products. Its principal products are interest-sensitive, traditional and variable life insurance; fixed annuities, including deferred and immediate; and voluntary accident and health insurance. Its institutional products consist of funding agreements sold to unaffiliated trusts that use them to back medium-term notes issued to institutional and individ ual investors. Banking products and services were offered to! customer! s through the Allstate Bank through September 2011. In 2011, after receiving regulatory approval to voluntarily dissolve, Allstate Bank ceased operations.

The Company sells Allstate Financial products to individuals through multiple intermediary distribution channels, including Allstate exclusive agencies and exclusive financial specialists, independent agents, specialized structured settlement brokers and directly through call centers and the Internet. The Company sells products through independent agents affiliated with approximately 125 master brokerage agencies. Independent workplace enrolling agents and Allstate exclusive agencies also sell its voluntary accident and health insurance products primarily to employees of unaffiliated businesses. Its mortgage loan portfolio, which is primarily held in the Allstate Financial portfolio, totaled $7.14 billion as of December 31, 2011

Allstate Financial, through several companies, is authorized to sell life insurance and retirement products in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the United States, Virgin Islands and Guam. Allstate Financial distributes its products to individuals through multiple distribution channels, including Allstate exclusive agencies and exclusive financial specialists, independent agents (including master brokerage agencies and workplace enrolling agents), specialized structured settlement brokers and directly through call centers and the Internet.

OTHER BUSINESS SEGMENTS

The Company’s Corporate and Other segment consistsof holding company activities and certain non-insurance operations. It’s Discontinued Lines and Coverages segment includes results from insurance coverage that it no longer writes and results for certain commercial and other businesses in run-off. Its exposure to asbestos, environmental and other discontinued lines claims is presented in the segment. The segment also includes the hist orical results of the commercial and reinsurance businesses ! sold in 1! 996.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Adrian Day]

    Adrian Day: Yes, yes, I like the concept of looking up the secondary plays. I mean, you know we own Altius (ALS) for example, rather than Alderon (ADV). Altius owns 30% of Alderon, that is more diversified, has a better balance sheet. If Alderon succeeds, Atius will succeed.

Best Insurance Stocks To Buy For 2015: Metlife Inc (MET)

MetLife, Inc. (MetLife), incorporated on August 10, 1999, is a provider of insurance, annuities and employee benefit programs, serving 90 million customers in over 50 countries. Through its subsidiaries and affiliates, MetLife operates in the United States, Japan, Latin America, Asia Pacific, Europe and the Middle East. It is organized into six segments: Insurance Products, Retirement Products, Corporate Benefit Funding and Auto & Home (collectively, U.S. Business), and Japan and Other International Regions (collectively, International). In addition, the Company reports certain of its results of operations in Corporate & Other, which includes MetLife Bank, National Association (MetLife Bank) and other business activities. U.S. Business provides insurance and financial services products, including life, dental, disability, auto and homeowner insurance, guaranteed interest and stable value products, and annuities through independent retail distribution channels, as well as a t the workplace. Outside the U.S., it operates in Japan and over 50 countries within Latin America, Asia Pacific, Europe and the Middle East. MetLife is the life insurer in Mexico and also holds positions in Japan, Poland, Chile and Korea. This business provides life insurance, accident and health insurance, credit insurance, annuities, endowment and retirement and savings products to both individuals and groups. In August 2012, it acquired Reynolds Plantation. In January 2013, the Company completed the sale of MetLife Bank, N.A.’s deposit business. Effective July 25, 2013, MetLife Inc acquired Broadstone Laurel Highlands, from Alliance Residential Fund I. In September 2013, MetLife Inc and Thayer Lodging Group acquired the 365-room Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico in a joint venture.

Insurance Products

The Insurance Products segment offers a range of protection products and services aimed at serving the financ ial needs of its customers throughout their lives. These pro! ducts are sold to individuals and corporations, as well as other institutions and their respective employees. It is organized in three businesses: Group Life, Individual Life and Non-Medical Health.

The Group Life insurance products and services include variable life, universal life, and term life products. It offer group insurance products as employer-paid benefits or as voluntary benefits where all or a portion of the premiums are paid by the employee. These group products and services also include employee paid supplemental life and are offered as standard products or may be tailored to meet specific customer needs.

The Individual Life insurance products and services include variable life, universal life, term life and whole life products. Additionally, through its broker-dealer affiliates, it offers a full range of mutual funds and other securities products. The products within both Group Life and Individual Life include Variable Life, Universa l Life, Term Life and Whole Life. Variable life products provide insurance coverage through a contract that gives the policyholder the policyholder flexibility in investment choices and, depending on the product, in premium payments and coverage amounts, with certain guarantees. With variable life products, premiums and account balances can be directed by the policyholder into a variety of separate account investment options or directed to the Company’s general account. In the separate account investment options, the policyholder bears the entire risk of the investment results.

Universal life products provide insurance coverage on the same basis as variable life, except that premiums, and the resulting accumulated balances, are allocated only to the Company’s general account. Universal life products may allow the insured to increase or decrease the amount of death benefit coverage over the term of the contract and the owner to adjust the frequency and amount of premium payments.

Term life products provid! e a guara! nteed benefit upon the death of the insured for a specified time period in return for the periodic payment of premiums. Specified coverage periods range from one year to 30 years, but in no event are they longer than the period over, which premiums are paid. Death benefits may be level over the period or decreasing. Decreasing coverage is used principally to provide for loan repayment in the event of death. Premiums may be guaranteed at a level amount for the coverage period or may be non-level and non-guaranteed. Term insurance products are sometimes referred to as pure protection products, in that there are typically no savings or investment elements. Term contracts expire without value at the end of the coverage period when the insured party is still living.

Whole life products provide a guaranteed benefit upon the death of the insured in return for the periodic payment of a fixed premium over a predetermined period. Premium payments may be required for the e ntire life of the contract period, to a specified age or period, and may be level or change in accordance with a predetermined schedule. Whole life insurance includes policies that provide a participation feature in the form of dividends. Policyholders may receive dividends in cash or apply them to increase death benefits, increase cash values available upon surrender or reduce the premiums required to maintain the contract in-force.

The Non-Medical Health products and services include dental insurance, group short- and long-term disability, individual disability income, long-term care (LTC), critical illness and accidental death & dismemberment coverage. Other products and services include employer-sponsored auto and homeowners insurance provided through the Auto & Home segment and prepaid legal plans. The Company also sells administrative services-only (ASO) arrangements to some employers. The products in this area are Dental, Disability and Long-term Care (LT C). Dental products provide insurance and ASO plans that ass! ist emplo! yees, retirees and their families in maintaining oral health while reducing out-of-pocket expenses and providing superior customer service. Dental plans include the Preferred Dentist Program and the Dental Health Maintenance Organization. Disability products provide a benefit in the event of the disability of the insured. This benefit is in the form of monthly income paid until the insured reaches age 65. In addition to income replacement, the product may be used to provide for the payment of business overhead expenses for disabled business owners or mortgage payment protection. This is offered on both a group and individual basis. LTC products provide protection against the potentially high costs of LTC services. They generally pay benefits to insureds that need assistance with activities of daily living or have a cognitive impairment.

Retirement Products

The Retirement products segment includes a variety of variable and fixed annuities that are primarily sold to individuals and employees of corporations and other institutions. The products in this area are Variable Annuities and Fixed Annuities. Variable annuities provide for both asset accumulation and asset distribution needs. Variable annuities allow the contract holder to make deposits into various investment options in a separate account, as determined by the contract holder. The risks associated with such investment options are borne entirely by the contract holder, except where guaranteed minimum benefits are involved.

Fixed annuities provide for both asset accumulation and asset distribution needs. Fixed annuities do not allow the same investment flexibility provided by variable annuities, but provide guarantees related to the preservation of principal and interest credited.

Corporate Benefit Funding

The Corporate Benefit Funding segment includes a range of annuity and investment products, including, guaranteed intere st products and other stable value products, income annuitie! s, and se! parate account contracts for the investment management of defined benefit and defined contribution plan assets. This segment also includes certain products to fund postretirement benefits and company, bank or trust owned life insurance used to finance non-qualified benefit programs for executives. The products in this area are Stable Value Products, Pensions Closeouts, Torts and Settlements, Capital Markets Investment Products and other Corporate Benefit Funding Products and Services. The Company offers general account guaranteed interest contracts, separate account guaranteed interest contracts, and similar products used to support the stable value option of defined contribution plans. It also offers private floating rate funding agreements that are used for money market funds, securities lending cash collateral portfolios and short-term investment funds.

The Company offers general account and separate account annuity products, generally in connection with the termination of defined benefit pension plans, both in the United States and the United Kingdom. It also offers partial risk transfer solutions that allow for partial transfers of pension liabilities and annuity products that include single premium buyouts. It offers strategies for complex litigation settlements, primarily structured settlement annuities. Under the Capital Markets Investment Products, the products offered include funding agreements, Federal Home Loan Bank advances and funding agreement-backed commercial paper. Under the Other Corporate Benefit Funding Products and Services, it offers specialized insurance products designed specifically to provide solutions for non-qualified benefit and retiree benefit funding purposes.

Auto & Home

The Auto & Home segment includes personal lines property and casualty insurance offered directly to employees at their employer’s worksite, as well as to individuals through a variety of retail distributi on channels, including independent agents, property and casu! alty spec! ialists, direct response marketing and the individual distribution sales group. Auto & Home primarily sells auto insurance, which represented 67% of Auto & Home’s total net earned premiums in 2011. Homeowners and other insurance represented 33% of Auto & Home’s total net earned premiums in 2011. The products in this area are Auto Coverages and Homeowners and Other Coverages. Auto insurance policies provide coverage for private passenger automobiles, utility automobiles and vans, motorcycles, motor homes, antique or classic automobiles and trailers. Auto & Home offers traditional coverage, such as liability, uninsured motorist, no fault or personal injury protection, as well as collision and comprehensive. Homeowners’ insurance policies provide protection for homeowners, renters, condominium owners and residential landlords against losses arising out of damage to dwellings and contents from a variety of perils, as well as coverage for liability arising from ownership or occupancy. Other insurance includes personal excess liability (protection against losses in excess of amounts covered by other liability insurance policies), and coverage for recreational vehicles and boat owners. Most of Auto & Home’s homeowners’ policies are traditional insurance policies for dwellings, providing protection for loss on a replacement cost basis. These policies also provide additional coverage for reasonable, normal living expenses incurred by policyholders that have been displaced from their homes.

International

International provides life insurance, accident and health insurance, credit insurance, annuities, endowment and retirement & savings products to both individuals and groups. The Company focuses on markets primarily within Japan, Latin America, Asia Pacific, Europe and the Middle East. It operates in international markets through subsidiaries and affiliates. The Company operates in 22 countries in Latin America, with o perations in Mexico, Chile and Argentina. It operates in fou! r countri! es in Asia Pacific with operations in Korea, Hong Kong and Australia. It operates in 35 countries in Europe and the Middle East with operations in Poland, the United Kingdom, France, and the United Arab Emirates, as well as through a consolidated joint venture in India.

Corporate & Other

Corporate & Other contains the excess capital not allocated to the segments, which is invested to optimize investment spread and to fund company initiatives and various start-up and run-off entities. Mortgage products offered by MetLife Bank include forward and reverse residential mortgage loans. Residential mortgage loans are originated through MetLife Bank’s national sales force, mortgage brokers and mortgage correspondents. The residential mortgage banking activities include the origination and servicing of mortgage loans. Mortgage loans are held-for-investment or sold primarily into Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA), Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corpo ration (FHLMC) or Government National Mortgage Association (GNMA) securities. Deposit products include traditional savings accounts, money market savings accounts, certificates of deposit (CDs) and individual retirement accounts.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Ben Levisohn]

    It’s been a good day for life insurers across the board today, thanks to speculation that the Fed could get more hawkish following today’s jobs report–and higher interest rates would benefit insurers. Shares of Prudential have gained 2% to $88.47 at 2:53 p.m. today, while Metlife (MET) has risen 1.3% to $53.04 and Lincoln National (LNC) has advanced 1.6% to $52.75. American International Group (AIG) has dropped 0.2% to $51.05.

  • [By Lauren Pollock]

    Rothesay Life Ltd. agreed to buy MetLife Inc.’s(MET) U.K.-based annuity pension unit as it continues to build out its annuity portfolio. Financial terms of the deal, which is expected to close in the second quarter, weren’t disclosed.

  • [By Christina Rexrode]

    Marsh & McLennan Cos Inc. (MMC) and MetLife Inc. (MET) have been rising since those companies reported earnings earlier this week.

Best Insurance Stocks To Buy For 2015: HCI Group Inc (HCI)

HCI Group Inc, formerly Homeowners Choice, Inc., incorporated in 2006, is a holding company. The Company, through its subsidiaries, is primarily engaged in the property and casualty insurance business. The Company is authorized to underwrite homeowners’ property and casualty insurance in the state of Florida through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Homeowners Choice Property & Casualty Insurance Company, Inc. (HCPC). Through HCPC and subsidiaries, primarily Homeowners Choice Managers, Inc. (HCM), Southern Administration, Inc., Claddaugh Casualty Insurance Company, Ltd., and its subsidiary, HCPCI Holdings LLC, the Company provides property and casualty homeowners’ insurance, condominium-owners’ insurance, and tenants’ insurance to individuals owning property in Florida. The Company’s subsidiaries also include TV Investment Holdings LLC, which owns and operates a marina facility located in Florida; Unthink Technologies Private Limited, which is a software development firm. Dur ing the year ended December 31, 2011, the Company organized TV Investment Holdings LLC, HCI Holdings LLC and HCI Technical Resources, Inc. In November 18, 2011, the Company acquired Unthink Technologies Private Ltd. In November 2011, it acquired the Florida policies of HomeWise Insurance Company.

The Company’s subsidiary, HCM provides underwriting policy administration, marketing, accounting and financial services to HCPC, and participates in the negotiation of reinsurance contracts. Southern Administration, Inc. provides policy administration services. Claddaugh Casualty Insurance Company Ltd. provides reinsurance coverage to HCPC. Asof December 31, 2011, the Company has approximately 119,000 policies in force. Citizens Property Insurance Corporation requires the Company to offer renewals on the policies the Company acquires for a period of three years subsequent to the initial expiration of the assumed policies. The policyholders have the option to renew wi th the Company or they may ask their agent to place their co! verage with another insurance company.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Marc Bastow]

    Property and casualty insurance holding company HCI Group (HCI) raised its quarterly dividend 22.2% to 27.5 cents per share, payable Dec. 20 to shareholders of record Nov. 15.
    HCI Dividend Yield: 2.48%

  • [By Ben Levisohn]

    Tower Group has dropped 12% to $3.88 today at 11:39 a.m., while Stewart Information Services (STC) has dipped 0.1% to $31.16, the Navigators Group (NAVG) has fallen 1.4% to $54.78 and HCI Group (HCI) has gained 1% to $38.16.

  • [By Ben Levisohn]

    Tower Group has dropped 40% to $4.43 today, and some other small insurers are also getting dinged this morning. HCI Group (HCI) has fallen 1.8% to $39.36, Stewart Information Services (STC) has declined 0.7% to $31.36 and the Navigators Group (NAVG) has ticked down 0.4% to $56.10.

Best Insurance Stocks To Buy For 2015: Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. (AJG)

Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. (Gallagher), along with its subsidiaries, provides insurance brokerage and third-party claims settlement, and administration services to entities in the United States and abroad. It operates in three segments: brokerage, risk management and corporate. The Brokerage segment primarily consists of retail and wholesale insurance brokerage operations. The Company’s risk management segment provides contract claim settlement and administration services for enterprises that choose to self-insure some or all of their property/casualty coverages and for insurance companies that choose to outsource some or all of their property/casualty claims departments. Majority of its international brokerage operations are in Australia, Bermuda, Canada and the United Kingdom. Its international risk management operations are principally in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. The Company operates in Australia and Canada primarily as a retail commercial property and casualty broker. In December 2013, the Company announced that it has completed the acquisition of Barmore Insurance Agency, Inc. In December 2013, Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. acquired McIntyre Risk Management, LLC. In December 2013, the Company acquired Cleaveland Insurance Group and Jenkins and Associates. Effective December 26, 2013, Arthur J Gallagher & Co acquired Rock Island-based Cleaveland Insurance Group. In February 2014, Arthur J. Gallagher & Co acquired Benefit Development Group of Selma, Alabama. In February 2014, Arthur J. Gallagher & Co announced the acquisition of Kent, Kent & Tingle in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Brokerage Segment

The Company’s retail brokerage operations negotiate and place property/casualty, employer-provided health and welfare insurance and retirement solutions principally for middle-market commercial, industrial, public entity, religious and not-for-profit entities. Many of the Company’s retail brokera ge customers choose to place their insurance with insurance ! underwriters, while others choose to use alternative vehicles, such as self-insurance pools, risk retention groups or captive insurance companies. Its wholesale brokerage operations assist its brokers and other unaffiliated brokers and agents in the placement of specialized, and hard-to-place insurance programs.

The Company’s primary sources of compensation for its retail brokerage services are commissions paid by insurance carriers. It operates its brokerage operations through a network of more than 300 sales and service offices located throughout the United States and in 16 other countries. In addition, the Company offers client-service capabilities in more than 110 countries worldwide through a network of correspondent brokers and consultants. The Company’s retail brokerage operations place all lines of commercial property/casualty and health and welfare insurance coverage. Its retail brokerage operations are organized in more than 190 geographical center s located in the United States, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom and operate within certain key niche/practice groups, which account for approximately 67% of its retail brokerage revenues.

During the year ended December 31, 2011, the Company’s wholesale insurance brokerage operations accounted for 22% of its brokerage segment revenues. Its wholesale brokers assist its retail brokers and other non-affiliated brokers in the placement of specialized and hard-to-place insurance. These brokers operate through over 65 geographical centers located across the United States, Bermuda and through its approved Lloyd’s of London brokerage operation. In certain cases, it acts as a brokerage wholesaler, and in other cases, it acts as a managing general agent or managing general underwriter distributing specialized insurance coverages for insurance carriers. Over 75% of the Company’s wholesale brokerage revenues come from non-affiliated brokerage customers.

Risk Management Segment

The Company’s ! risk mana! gement segment provides contract claim settlement and administration services for enterprises that choose to self-insure some or all of their property/casualty coverages and for insurance companies that choose to outsource some or all of their property/casualty claims departments. During 2011, approximately 67% of its risk management segment’s revenues were from workers compensation related claims, 26% were from general and commercial auto liability related claims and 7% were from property related claims. In addition, it generate revenues from integrated disability management (employee absence management) programs, information services, risk control consulting (loss control) services and appraisal services, either individually or in combination with arising claims. The Company manages its third-party claims adjusting operations through a network of approximately 110 offices located throughout the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

< /p>

The Company competes with Aon Corporation, Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc., Willis Group Holdings, Ltd., Wells Fargo Insurance Services, Inc., Brown & Brown Inc., Hub International Ltd., Lockton Companies, Inc., USI Holdings Corporation, Aon Hewitt, Towers Watson & Co., Crump Group, Inc., CRC Insurance Services, Inc., RT Specialty, AmWINS Group, Inc., Swett & Crawford Group, Inc., Sedgwick Claims Management Services, Inc., Crawford & Company, ACE Limited, AIG Insurance and Zurich Insurance.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Marc Bastow]

    Insurance brokerage and third-party claims settlement claims company Arthur J. Gallagher (AJG) raised its quarterly dividend 3% to 36 cents per share, payable on Mar. 20 to shareholders of record as of Mar. 4.
    AJG Dividend Yield: 3.00%

  • [By Ben Levisohn]

    Abbvie (ABBV)
    Ameren Corp. (AEE)
    Arthur J. Gallagher (AJG)
    E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co. (DD)
    ENSCO (ESV)
    Enterprise Products Partners LP (EPD)
    General Mills (GIS)
    H&R Block (HRB)
    Hancock Holding (HBHC)
    Kraft Foods Group (KRFT)
    Lorillard (LO)
    Magellan Midstream Partners LP (MMP)
    MarkWest Energy Partners L P (MWE)
    McDonald’s (MCD)
    Microchip Technology (MCHP)
    NextEra Energy (NEE)
    Regency Centers (REG)
    TELUS Corp. (TU)
    West Corp. (WSTC)
    Williams Companies (WMB)

  • [By Rich Duprey]

    Expanding its presence in the United Kingdom, insurance provider Arthur J. Gallagher (NYSE: AJG  ) will acquire the U.K.-based Property & Commercial Limited from Barbon Insurance Group, the country’s largest provider of tenant references, the largest provider of rent guarantee, and one of the largest brokers to the social housing sector.

Best Insurance Stocks To Buy For 2015: CNO Financial Group Inc. (CNO)

CNO Financial Group, Inc., through its subsidiaries, engages in the development, marketing, and administration of health insurance, annuity, individual life insurance, and other insurance products for senior and middle-income markets in the United States. The company markets and distributes Medicare supplement insurance, interest-sensitive and traditional life insurance, fixed annuities, and long-term care insurance products; Medicare advantage plans through a distribution arrangement with Humana Inc.; and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans through a distribution and reinsurance arrangement with Coventry Health Care. It also markets and distributes supplemental health, including specified disease, accident, and hospital indemnity insurance products; and life insurance to middle-income consumers at home and the worksite through independent marketing organizations and insurance agencies. In addition, the company markets primarily graded benefit and simplified issue life insurance products directly to customers through television advertising, direct mail, Internet, and telemarketing. It sells its products through career agents, independent producers, direct marketing, and sales managers. CNO Financial Group, Inc. has strategic alliances with Coventry and Humana. The company was formerly known as Conseco, Inc. and changed its name to CNO Financial Group, Inc. in May 2010. CNO Financial Group, Inc. was founded in 1979 and is headquartered in Carmel, Indiana.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Jonas Elmerraji]

    Up first is CNO Financial Group (CNO), a mid-cap financial stock that’s rocketed close to 60% higher since the calendar flipped over to January. Yup, it’s been a great year for the market, but it’s been a far better one for investors who own CNO. But that strong performance isn’t showing any signs of slowing yet. In fact, CNO looks primed for even more upside in the fourth quarter.

    That’s because CNO is currently forming a bullish pattern called an ascending triangle. The ascending triangle pattern is formed by a horizontal resistance level above shares — in this case at $14.75 — and uptrending support to the downside. Basically, as CNO bounces in between those two technical price levels, it’s getting squeezed closer and closer to a breakout above that $14.75 resistance level. When that breakout happens, it’s time to become a buyer.

    ACCO’s price action isn’t exactly textbook. After all, the pattern is coming in at the bottom of a downtrend, not after an uptrend. But ultimately, that doesn’t change the trading implications of a move through that $7.50 level.

    Whenever you’re looking at any technical price pattern, it’s critical to think in terms of those buyers and sellers. Ascending triangles and other pattern names are a good quick way to explain what’s going on in a stock, but they’re not the reason it’s tradable. Instead, it all comes down to supply and demand for shares.

    That $7.50 resistance level is a price where there has been an excess of supply of shares; in other words, it’s a place where sellers have been more eager to step in and take gains than buyers have been to buy. That’s what makes a breakout above it so significant. The move means that buyers are finally strong enough to absorb all of the excess supply above that price level.

    Don’t be early on this trade.

  • [By Vanin Aegea]

    I have heard many people comment about the insurance policies for cars, houses, life, assets, etc. The arguments always revolve around the same issue: Is it really necessary? What are the chances to be hit by a Hurricane, or to meet a sudden death? Well, nobody really knows. Some individuals however, sleep better when they know a policy backs their life investments. Here, I will look into three insurance companies that concentrate on different policies, or geographies. These are: China Life (LFC), and Conseco (CNO).

  • [By David Fried, Editor, The Buyback Letter]

    Insurance holding company CNO Financial Group (CNO) and its insurance subsidiaries—principally Bankers Life and Casualty Company, Washington National, and Colonial Penn Life Insurance Company—serve pre-retiree and retired Americans.

Best Insurance Stocks To Buy For 2015: 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 Ben Levisohn]

    It’s been a good day for life insurers across the board today, thanks to speculation that the Fed could get more hawkish following today’s jobs report–and higher interest rates would benefit insurers. Shares of Prudential have gained 2% to $88.47 at 2:53 p.m. today, while Metlife (MET) has risen 1.3% to $53.04 and Lincoln National (LNC) has advanced 1.6% to $52.75. American International Group (AIG) has dropped 0.2% to $51.05.

  • [By Marc Bastow]

    Global insurance company AIG (AIG) raised its quarterly dividend 25% to 12.5 cents per share, payable March 25 to shareholders of record as of March 11.
    AIG Dividend Yield: 1.03%

  • [By Christina Rexrode]

    American International Group (AIG)  said late Thursday that it swung to a profit in the fourth quarter, and it announced plans to raise its dividend and buy back more of its own shares. But analysts were concerned about weakness in the property and casualty line, where the bank needs to cut costs if it wants to get consistent underwriting profits, said Sandler O’Neill analyst Paul Newsome. With no major catastrophes, like last year’s superstorm Sandy, analysts had expected more improvement in the unit’s “severe losses,” said Evercore analyst Mark Finkelstein.

Best Insurance Stocks To Buy For 2015: Fidelity National Financial Inc. (FNF)

Fidelity National Financial, Inc. provides title insurance, mortgage services, and diversified services in the United States. The company provides title insurance, escrow, and other title related services, including collection and trust activities, trustee’s sales guarantees, recordings, and reconveyances, as well as home warranty insurance to various customers in the residential and commercial market sectors of the real estate industry. It is also involved in the design, manufacture, remanufacture, market, and distribution of aftermarket and original equipment electrical components for automobiles, light trucks, heavy-duty trucks, and other vehicles worldwide. In addition, the company owns and operates restaurants comprising the O’Charley’s, Ninety Nine Restaurants, Max & Erma’s, Village Inn, Bakers Square, and Stoney River Legendary Steaks concepts in the United States. Fidelity National Financial, Inc. is headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Adam J. Wiederman]

    Getty Images Bitcoin made headlines last year when the value of all outstanding pieces of the electronic currency reached nearly $10 billion. It’s not just speculators drawn to the new currency. Many businesses are also attempting to cash in on this growth: Several public companies, including Zynga (ZNGA) and Overstock.com (OSTK), accept Bitcoins as a form of payment. Venture capitalist Marc Andreessen’s firm has invested nearly $50 million in Bitcoin-related ventures, and it is looking to invest even more. And the Winklevoss twins — who notoriously accused Facebook’s (FB) Mark Zuckerberg of stealing their idea — have been “in dialogue” with the SEC about opening the first Bitcoin exchange-traded fund, according to Bloomberg. Yet a new survey from TheStreet.com (TST) reveals that 76 percent of consumers are not familiar with Bitcoin — and 79 percent would never consider owning a currency like it. Does this signal opportunity for savvy investors? Or is this a fad you’d be wise to avoid? The Basics of Bitcoin Bitcoin is a completely unregulated form of currency developed by an anonymous Japanese programmer (according to some apocryphal claims) as a completely digital, peer-to-peer payment system that is independent of national currencies (which, Bitcoin users argue, are all subject to the riskiness of the underlying country). Bitcoins are rewarded throughout the day to a “Bitcoin miner” whose computer solves a series of algorithms quicker than other miners. The puzzles become more difficult over time, so the calculations take longer and the computations require more computing power. There will eventually be a total of 21 million Bitcoins (12.4 million are in circulation today) and we won’t reach the point that they are effectively “mined out” until 2040. The value of a Bitcoin is supposed to be market-driven, meaning they’re worth whatever the two parties in a transaction value them as. For example, in one of the original Bitcoin transactions, a “mi

  • [By Rich Duprey]

    Title insurance company Fidelity National Financial (NYSE: FNF  ) announced yesterday its third-quarter dividend of $0.16 per share, the same rate it’s paid for the past three quarters after raising the payout 14% from $0.14 per share.

Best Insurance Stocks To Buy For 2015: ING Groep NV (ING)

ING Groep N.V. (ING), incorporated in 1991, is a global financial institution offering banking, investments, life insurance and retirement services to meet the needs of the customers. The Company’s segments include banking and insurance. Banking segment includes retail Netherlands, retail Belgium, ING direct, retail central Europe (CE), retail Asia, commercial banking (excluding real estate), ING real estate and corporate line banking. Insurance segment includes insurance Benelux, insurance central and rest of Europe (CRE), insurance United States (US), Insurance US closed block VA, insurance Asia/Pacific, ING investment management (IM) and corporate line insurance. In February 2011, the Company divested its real estate investment operation ING Real Estate Investment Management (ING REIM) to CB Richard Ellis Group Inc. In June 2011, the Company sold Clarion Partners. In July 2011, ING announced the completion of the sale of Clarion Real Estate Securities. During the year ended December 31, 2011, the Company divested its interests in ING Car Lease and ING IM Philippines. In February 2012, Capital One Financial Corp. acquired ING Direct business in the United States from the Company.

In June 2011, ING had completed the sale of its interest in China’s Pacific Antai Life Insurance Company Ltd. In June 2011, ING announced the completion of the sale of real estate investment manager of its United States operations, Clarion Partners, to Clarion Partners management in partnership with Lightyear Capital LLC. In October 2011, ING announced that it had completed the sale of REIM’s Asian and European operations to CBRE Group Inc. In December 2011 ING completed the sale of its Latin American pensions, life insurance and investment management operations.

Retail Netherlands

Retail Banking reaches its individual customers through Internet banking, telephone, call centers, mailings and branches. Using direct market ing methods, it is a provider of current account services an! d payments systems to provide other financial services, such as savings accounts, mortgage loans, consumer loans, credit card services, investment and insurance products. Mortgages are offered through a tied agents sale force and direct and intermediary channels. ING Bank Netherlands operates through a branch network of approximately 280 branches. It offers a range of commercial banking activities and also life and non-life insurance products. It also sells mortgages through the intermediary channel.

Retail Belgium

ING Belgium provides banking, insurance (life, non-life) and asset management products and services to meet the needs of individuals, families, companies and institutions through a network of local head offices, 773 branches and direct banking channels (automated branches, home banking services and call centers). ING Belgium also operates a second network, Record Bank, which provides a range of banking products through independent banking agents and credit products through a multitude of channels (agents, brokers, vendors).

ING Direct

ING Direct offers a range of financial products, such as savings, mortgages, retail investment products, payment accounts and consumer lending products. It operates in Canada, Spain, Australia, France, Italy, Germany, Austria and the United Kingdom. In June 2011, ING Group announced the sale of ING Direct USA to Capital One Financial Corporation.

Retail Central Europe

Retail Central Europe has a presence in Poland, and Romania and Turkey. ING in Poland is an Internet bank. During 2011, ING Bank Turkey launched the Orange account, the variable savings product. ING in Turkey also launched a mobile phone banking application. ING Bank Romania carried out its Internet banking site, Home’Bank. In September 2011, a mobile version of the Home’Bank Website was introduced.

Retail Asia

Retail Banking has a presence in Asian markets of India, China and Thailand. As o! f Decembe! r 31, 2011, the Company had 44% interest in ING Vysya and 30% interest in TMB Bank in Thailand. Bank of Beijing (BoB), in which ING has the largest single interest (16.07%) is a commercial bank in China. ING provides principally risk management and retail banking to BoB.

Commercial Banking

ING Commercial Banking supports the banking needs of its corporate and institutional clients to invest both retail and commercial bank customer deposits. It is a commercial bank in its home markets in the Benelux, as well as in Germany, Central and Eastern Europe. In addition to the banking services of lending, payments and cash management and treasury, it also provides solutions in other areas, including specialized and trade finance, derivatives, corporate finance, debt and equity capital markets, leasing, factoring and supply chain finance. Payments and Cash Management (PCM) and General Lending are its some of the product lines. Structured Finance (SF) is a sp ecialist commercial lending business, providing loans to support capital intensive investments and working capital. It is managed in three groups: the Energy, Transport and Infrastructure Group; the Specialized Financing Group; and International Trade and Export Finance. Leasing and Factoring (L&F) provides financial and operating leasing services for a range of equipment, as well as receivables financing and other factoring solutions for commercial banking clients. The Financial Markets (FM) is the global business unit that manages ING’s financial markets trading and non-trading activities. FM is managed along three business lines: ALCO manages the interest rates exposures arising from the traditional banking activities, Strategic Trading Platform incorporates the primary proprietary risk taking units, and Clients and Products is the primary customer trading facilitation business line.

Real Estate

During 2011, Real Estate Finance (REF) maintained its credit portfolio. Real Estate Development (ING RED) and! Real Est! ate Investment Management (ING REIM) has a controlled wind down of activities.

Insurance Benelux

Duirng 2011, Nationale-Nederlanden introduced bank pension savings products and annuities. ING Life Belgium introduced a new Universal Life product. Nationale-Nederlanden also received a license from the Dutch Central Bank to launch a defined contribution DC company pension product PPI in Europe. NN Services introduced a processing and information technology system (business process management layer) for several legacy lines of retail Life businesses. NN Services IT manages all the closed book business of Nationale-Nederlanden. ING’s life insurance products in the Benelux consist of a range of traditional, unit-linked and variable annuity policies written for both individual and group customers. ING is also a provider of (re-insured) company pension plans in the Netherlands.

NG Benelux’ non-life products, mainly in the Netherlands, incl ude coverage for both individual and commercial/group clients for fire, motor, disability, transport and third party liability. Nationale-Nederlanden has also a central product manufacturing service for property and casualty insurance, which has developed products for ING Bank in Belgium and ING Bank in the Netherlands. ING offers a range of disability insurance products and complementary services for employers and self-employed professionals (such as dentists and general practitioners).

Insurance Central and Rest of Europe

Insurance Central and Rest of Europe has life insurance companies in Hungary, Poland, the Czech and Slovak Republics, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Spain and Turkey. It has pension funds in Poland, Hungary, the Czech and Slovak Republics, Bulgaria, Romania and in Turkey. ING offers a range of individual endowment, unit linked, term and whole life insurance policies designed to meet specific customer needs. It also has employee benef its products, as well as pension funds, that manage individu! al retire! ment accounts for individuals. The latter comprise both mandatory and voluntary retirement savings.

Insurance United States (Excluding US Closed Block Va)

ING Insurance US offers retirement services (primarily defined contribution plans), life insurance, fixed annuities, employee benefits, mutual funds, and broker-dealer services in the United States. ING Insurance US operates four businesses: Retirement Plans, Individual Retirement, Individual Life and Employee Benefits. ING Insurance US’s Retirement Plans business is a contribution providers, which offers a range of retirement solutions to all sizes and types of employers, including businesses for-profit ranging from start-ups to large corporations, public and private school systems, higher education institutions, state and local governments, hospitals and healthcare facilities, and not-for-profit organizations. ING Insurance US’s Retirement Plans business is a provider of defined contribution (DC) retirement plans in the United States based on assets under management and administration.

Insurance US Closed Block Va

ING US Closed Block VA consists of variable annuities issued in the United States that are primarily owned by individuals and were designed to address the demand for tax-advantaged savings, retirement planning, and wealth-protection. These annuity contracts were sold in the United States, primarily through independent third party distributors, including wirehouses and securities firms, independent planners and agents and banks.

Insurance Asia/Pacific

ING Insurance Asia/Pacific (IAP) is a provider of life insurance products and services. It is a life insurer in the region, with nine life operations in eight markets. IAP has ip operations in Japan and South Korea, operates a nt business in Malaysia, and is well in China, Hong Kong, Macau, India and Thailand. In April 2011, IAP, together with Public B ank Berhad and Public Islamic Bank Berhad, launched a joint ! venture i! n Malaysia, ING PUBLIC Takaful Ehsan Berhad, which will develop Takaful insurance products. In June 2011, IAP completed the sale of its 50% interest in Pacific-Antai Life Insurance Company Limited (PALIC).

The business units of IAP offer select types of life insurance, wealth management, and retail products and services. These include annuities, endowment, disability/morbidity insurance, unit linked/universal life, whole e, participating life, group life, accident and health, term life and employee benefits. In Hong Kong non-life insurance products (including medical, motor, fire, marine, personal accident and general liability) are also offered.

Insurance Latin America

ING completed the sale of its pensions, life insurance and investment management operations on December 29, 2011. These operations were in Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay.

ING Investment Management

ING IM is an investment manager of IN G Group with activities in Europe, the Americas, Asia-Pacific and the Middle East. In October 2011, ING IM sold ING IM Australia. ING IM provides a range of actively-managed strategies, investment vehicles and advisory services in all major asset classes and investment styles. It delivers a range of investment strategies and services to ING’s global network of businesses and third-party clients.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Laura Brodbeck]

    Wednesday

    Earnings Expected From: CenturyLink, Inc. (NYSE: CTL), Tempur-pedic International Inc. (NYSE: TPX), ING Group, N.V. (NYSE: ING), Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX), Duke Energy Corporation (NYSE: DUK), Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) Economic Releases Expected: Australian unemployment rate, US CB Leading Index, eurozone retail sales, British Industrial and manufacturing production, eurozone services PMI

    Thursday

  • [By Eric Volkman]

    ING’s (NYSE: ING  ) Latin American operations will soon be one division lighter. The company announced it reached an agreement to sell its mortgage business in Mexico to Grupo Financiero Santander Mexico (NYSE: BSMX  ) , the local presence of Spanish financial group Banco Santander (NYSE: SAN  ) . The price was 643 million pesos ($51 million), according to Mexico City newspaper La Cronica de Hoy.

  • [By Selena Maranjian]

    More than a handful of foreign companies had solid performances over the past year. Netherlands-based financial giant ING Groep (NYSE: ING  ) surged 50%, as it sold off various assets as part of a multibillion-dollar government bailout agreement. It spun off a stake in its U.S. operations via an IPO earlier this year, with ING U.S. expected to be rebranded as Voya Financial.

Best Insurance Stocks To Buy For 2015: Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKB)

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (Berkshire), incorporated on June 16, 1998, is a holding company owning subsidiaries engaged in a number of diverse business activities. The Company is engaged in the insurance businesses conducted on both a primary basis and a reinsurance basis, a freight rail transportation business and a group of utility, and energy generation and distribution businesses. Berkshire also owns and operates a number of other businesses engaged in a variety of activities. In October 2012, HomeServices acquired a 66.7% interest in the residential real estate brokerage franchise network in the United States. In May 2013, Berkshire acquired the remaining 20% stake in IMC International Metalworking Companies BV.

Insurance and Reinsurance Businesses

Berkshire’s insurance and reinsurance business activities are conducted through numerous domestic and foreign-based insurance entities. Berkshire’s insurance businesses provide insurance and rein surance of property and casualty risks worldwide and also reinsure life, accident and health risks worldwide. The Company’s insurance underwriting operations are consisted of the sub-groups, including GEICO and its subsidiaries, General Re and its subsidiaries, Berkshire Hathaway Reinsurance Group and Berkshire Hathaway Primary Group. GEICO insurance subsidiaries include Government Employees Insurance Company, GEICO General Insurance Company, GEICO Indemnity Company, GEICO Casualty Company, GEICO Advantage Insurance Company, GEICO Choice Insurance Company and GEICO Secure Insurance Company. These companies primarily offers private passenger automobile insurance to individuals in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In addition, GEICO insures motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, recreational vehicles and small commercial fleets and acts as an agent for other insurers who offer homeowners, boat and life insurance to individuals. GEICO markets its policies primarily thro ugh direct response methods in which applications for insura! nce are submitted directly to the companies via the Internet or by telephone.

General Re Corporation (General Re) is the holding company of General Reinsurance Corporation (GRC) and its subsidiaries and affiliates. GRC’s subsidiaries include General Reinsurance AG, an international reinsurer based in Germany. General Re subsidiaries conduct business activities globally in 51 cities and provide insurance and reinsurance coverages throughout the world. General Re provides property/casualty insurance and reinsurance, life/health reinsurance and other reinsurance intermediary and risk management, underwriting management and investment management services.

Property/Casualty Reinsurance

General Re’s property/casualty reinsurance business in North America is conducted through GRC. Property/casualty operations in North America are also conducted through 16 branch offices in the United States and Canada. Reinsurance activities are marketed directly to clients without involving a broker or intermediary. General Re’s property/casualty business in North America also includes specialty insurers (primarily the General Star and Genesis companies). These specialty insurers underwrite primarily liability and workers’ compensation coverages on an excess and surplus basis and excess insurance for self-insured programs. General Re’s international property/casualty reinsurance business operations are conducted through internationally-based subsidiaries on a direct basis (through General Reinsurance AG, as well as several other General Re subsidiaries in 23 countries) and through brokers (primarily through Faraday, which owns the managing agent of Syndicate 435 at Lloyd’s of London and provides capacity and participates in 100% of the results of Syndicate 435).

Life/Health Reinsurance

General Re’s North American and international life, health, long-term care and disability reinsurance coverages are written on an individual and group basis. Most! of this ! business is written on a proportional treaty basis, with the exception of the United States group health and disability business, which is predominately written on an excess treaty basis. Lesser amounts of life and disability business are written on a facultative basis. The life/health business is marketed on a direct basis.

The Berkshire Hathaway Reinsurance Group (BHRG) operates from offices located in Stamford, Connecticut. Business activities are conducted through a group of subsidiary companies, led by National Indemnity Company (NICO) and Columbia Insurance Company (Columbia). BHRG provides principally excess and quota-share reinsurance to other property and casualty insurers and reinsurers. BHRG’s underwriting activities also include life reinsurance and life annuity business written through Berkshire Hathaway Life Insurance Company of Nebraska and financial guaranty insurance written through Berkshire Hathaway Assurance Corporation.

BHRG w rites catastrophe excess-of-loss treaty reinsurance contracts. BHRG also writes individual policies for primarily large or otherwise unusual discrete risks on both an excess direct and facultative reinsurance basis, referred to as individual risk, which includes policies covering terrorism, natural catastrophe and aviation risks. A catastrophe excess policy provides protection to the counterparty from the accumulation of primarily property losses arising from a single loss event or series of related events. Catastrophe and individual risk policies may provide amounts of indemnification per contract and a single loss event may produce losses under a number of contracts. BHRG also underwrites traditional non-catastrophe insurance and reinsurance coverages, referred to as multi-line property/casualty business.

The Berkshire Hathaway Primary Group is a collection of primary insurance operations that provide a range of insurance coverages to insureds located principa lly in the United States. NICO and certain affiliates underw! rite moto! r vehicle and general liability insurance to commercial enterprises on both an admitted and excess and surplus basis. This business is written nationwide primarily through insurance agents and brokers and is based in Omaha, Nebraska. U.S. Investment Corporation (USIC), through its four subsidiaries led by United States Liability Insurance Company, is a specialty insurer that underwrites commercial, professional and personal lines of insurance on an admitted and excess and surplus basis. Policies are marketed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia through wholesale and retail insurance agents. USIC companies underwrite and market 110 distinct specialty property and casualty insurance products. Medical Protective Corporation (MedPro) is based in Fort Wayne, Indiana. MedPro offers products and solutions through its subsidiaries, The Medical Protective Company and Princeton Insurance Company and is a primary healthcare malpractice insurance coverage and patient safety sol utions to physicians, dentists, other healthcare providers and healthcare facilities. Other insurance operations include the Berkshire Hathaway Homestate Companies (BHHC), a group of six insurance companies that primarily offers standalone workers’ compensation, commercial auto and commercial property coverages.

Railroad Business

Through Burlington Northern Santa Fe, LLC (BNSF) Railway, BNSF operates a railroad network in North America with approximately BNSF operates a railroad network in North America with approximately 32,500 route miles of track (excluding multiple main tracks, yard tracks and sidings) in 28 states and two Canadian provinces as of December 31, 2012. BNSF owns approximately 23,000 route miles, including easements, and operates on approximately 9,500 route miles of trackage rights that permit BNSF to operate its trains with its crews over other railroads’ tracks. As of December 31, 2012, the total BNSF Railway system, includi ng single and multiple main tracks, yard tracks and sidings,! consiste! d of approximately 50,500 operated miles of track, all of which are owned by or held under easement by BNSF except for approximately 10,500 miles operated under trackage rights.

BNSF is based in Fort Worth, Texas, and through BNSF Railway Company operates railroad systems in North America. In serving the Midwest, Pacific Northwest, Western, Southwestern and Southeastern regions and ports of the country, BNSF transports a range of products and commodities derived from manufacturing, agricultural and natural resource industries. Over half of the freight revenues of BNSF are covered by contractual agreements of varying durations. BNSF’s primary routes, including trackage rights, allow it to access major cities and ports in the western and southern United States, as well as parts of Canada and Mexico.

Utilities and Energy Businesses

MidAmerican’s businesses are managed as separate operating units. MidAmerican’s domestic regulated ene rgy interests are consisted of two regulated utility companies serving more than three million retail customers, two interstate natural gas pipeline companies with approximately 16,600 miles of pipeline and a design capacity of approximately 7.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day and a 50% interest in electric transmission businesses. Its Great Britain electricity distribution subsidiaries serve about 3.9 million electricity end-users. In addition, MidAmerican’s interests include a diversified portfolio of domestic independent power projects, a hydroelectric facility in the Philippines, the residential real estate brokerage firm in the United States and the residential real estate brokerage franchise network in the United States.

PacifiCorp is a regulated electric utility company, serving regulated retail electric customers in portions of Utah, Oregon, Wyoming, Washington, Idaho and California. The combined service territory’s diverse regional econom y ranges from rural, agricultural and mining areas to urban,! manufact! uring and government service centers. As a vertically integrated electric utility, PacifiCorp owns approximately 10,600 net megawatts (MW) of generation capacity.

MidAmerican Energy Company (MEC) is a regulated electric and natural gas utility company, serving regulated retail electric and natural gas customers primarily in Iowa and also in portions of Illinois, South Dakota and Nebraska. MEC has a diverse customer base consisting of urban and rural residential customers and a range of commercial and industrial customers. In addition to retail sales and natural gas transportation, MEC sells regulated electricity principally to markets operated by regional transmission organizations and regulated natural gas to other utilities and market participants on a wholesale basis and sells non-regulated electricity and natural gas services in deregulated markets. As a vertically integrated electric and gas utility, MEC owns approximately 7,400 net megawatts of generation capacity.

The natural gas pipelines consist of Northern Natural Gas Company (Northern Natural) and Kern River Gas Transmission Company (Kern River). Northern Natural is based in Nebraska and owns interstate natural gas pipeline system in the United States reaching from southern Texas to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Northern Natural’s pipeline system consists of approximately 14,900 miles of natural gas pipelines. Northern Natural also operates three underground natural gas storage facilities and two liquefied natural gas storage peaking units.

Kern River is based in Utah and owns an interstate natural gas pipeline system that consists of approximately 1,700 miles and extends from supply areas in the Rocky Mountains to consuming markets in Utah, Nevada and California. Kern River transports natural gas for electric utilities and natural gas distribution utilities, major oil and natural gas companies or affiliates of such companies, electricity gen erating companies, energy marketing and trading companies, a! nd financ! ial institutions. The Great Britain utilities consist of Northern Powergrid (Northeast) Limited (Northern Powergrid (Northeast)) and Northern Powergrid (Yorkshire) plc (Northern Powergrid (Yorkshire)), which own a substantial Great Britain electricity distribution network that delivers electricity to end-users in northeast England in an area covering approximately 10,000 square miles. The distribution companies primarily charge supply companies regulated tariffs for the use of electrical infrastructure. MidAmerican also owns HomeServices of America, Inc. (HomeServices), a full-service residential real estate brokerage firm in the United States. HomeServices offers integrated real estate services, including mortgage originations and mortgage banking primarily through joint ventures, title and closing services, property and casualty insurance, home warranties, relocation services and other home-related services. It operates under 27 residential real estate brand names with ove r 16,000 sales agents and in nearly 375 brokerage offices in 21 states.

Manufacturing, Service and Retailing Businesses

Berkshire’s numerous and diverse manufacturing, service and retailing businesses. Marmon Holdings, Inc. (Marmon) consists of approximately 140 manufacturing and service businesses that operate independently within 11 diverse business sectors. These sectors are distribution services, electrical and plumbing products, industrial products, crane services, engineered wire and cable, transportation services and engineered products, food service equipment, highway technologies, retail home improvement products, retail store fixtures, and water treatment.

Distribution Services supplies specialty metal pipe and tubing, bar and sheet products to markets, including construction, industrial, aerospace and many others. Electrical and Plumbing Products is engaged in the distribution, supplying electrical building wire primarily for res idential and commercial construction, and copper tube for th! e plumbin! g, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), refrigeration and industrial markets, through the wholesale channel. Industrial Products consists of metal fasteners and fastener coatings for the construction, industrial and other markets, gloves for industrial markets, portable lighting equipment for mining and safety markets, overhead electrification equipment for mass transit systems, custom-machined aluminum and brass forgings for the construction, energy, recreation and other industries, brass fittings and valves for commercial and industrial applications, and drawn aluminum tubing and extruded aluminum shapes for the construction, automotive, appliance, medical and other markets.

Crane Services is engaged in providing the leasing and operation of mobile cranes primarily to the energy, mining and petrochemical markets. Engineered Wire and Cable is engaged in supplying electrical and electronic wire and cable for energy related markets and other industr ies. Transportation Services and Engineered Products includes manufacturing, leasing and maintenance of railroad tank cars, leasing of intermodal tank containers, in-plant rail services, manufacturing of bi-modal railcar movers, wheel, axle and gear sets for light rail transit and gear products for locomotives, manufacturing of steel tank heads, and services, equipment and technology for processing and distributing sulfur.

Food Service Equipment is engaged in supplying commercial food preparation equipment for restaurants and shopping carts for retail stores. Highway Technologies primarily serve the heavy-duty highway transportation industry with trailers, fifth wheel coupling devices and undercarriage products, such as brake parts and suspension systems, and also serving the light vehicle aftermarket with clutches and related products. Retail Home Improvement Products is engaged in supplying electrical and plumbing products through the home center channel. Retail Stor e Fixtures provides shelving systems, other merchandising di! splays an! d related services for retail stores, as well as work and garden gloves sold at retail. Water Treatment includes residential water softening, purification and refrigeration filtration systems, treatment systems for industrial markets including power generation, oil and gas, chemical, and pulp and paper, gear drives for irrigation systems and cooling towers, and air-cooled heat exchangers.

McLane Company, Inc. (McLane) provides wholesale distribution and logistics services in all 50 states and internationally in Brazil to customers that include convenience stores, discount retailers, wholesale clubs, drug stores, military bases, quick service restaurants and casual dining restaurants. Operations include grocery distribution, foodservice distribution, beverage distribution, international logistics and software development. McLane’s foodservice distribution unit, based in Carrollton, Texas, focuses on serving the quick service restaurant industry. Operations are conducted through 18 facilities in 16 states. The foodservice distribution unit services more than 19,000 chain restaurants nationwide.

Other Manufacturing, Other Service and Retailing Businesses

Berkshire’s apparel manufacturing businesses include manufacturers of a range of clothing and footwear. Businesses engaged in the manufacture and distribution of clothing products include Fruit of the Loom, Inc. (Fruit), Russell Brands, LLC (Russell), Vanity Fair Brands, LP (VFB), Garan and Fechheimer Brothers. Berkshire’s footwear businesses include H.H. Brown Shoe Group, Justin Brands and Brooks Sports. Fruit, Russell and VFB (together FOL) is primarily a vertically integrated manufacturer and distributor of basic apparel, underwear and athletic apparel and products. Products, under the Fruit of the Loom and JERZEES labels are primarily sold in the mass merchandise and wholesale markets. In the VFB product line, Vassarette, Bestform and Curvation ar e sold in the mass merchandise market, while Vanity Fair and! Lily of ! France products are sold in the mid-tier chains and department stores. FOL also markets and sells athletic uniforms, apparel, sports equipment and balls to team dealers; college licensed tee shirts and fleecewear to college bookstores and mid-tier merchants; and athletic apparel, sports equipment and balls to sporting goods retailers under the Russell Athletic and Spalding brands. Additionally, Spalding markets and sells balls in the mass merchandise market and dollar store channels.

Garan designs, manufactures, imports and sells apparel primarily for children, including boys, girls, toddlers and infants. Products are sold under its own trademark Garanimals and private labels of its customers. Garan also licenses its registered trademark Garanimals to independent third parties. Garan conducts its business through operating subsidiaries located in the United States, Central America and Asia. Fechheimer Brothers manufactures, distributes and sells uniforms, princi pally for the public service and safety markets, including police, fire, postal and military markets. Fechheimer Brothers is based in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Justin Brands and H.H. Brown Shoe Group manufacture and distribute work, rugged outdoor and casual shoes and western-style footwear under a number of brand names, including Justin, Tony Lama, Nocona, Chippewa, Carolina, Sofft, Double-H Boots, Eurosoft, and Softspots. Acme Building Brands (Acme) manufactures and distributes clay bricks (Acme Brick and Jenkins Brick), concrete block (Featherlite) and cut limestone (Texas Quarries). In addition, Acme distributes a range of other building products of other manufacturers, including glass block, floor and wall tile, wood flooring and other masonry products. Acme also sells ceramic floor and wall tile, as well as marble, granite and other stones through its subsidiary, American Tile and Stone. Benjamin Moore & Co. (Benjamin Moore) is a formulator, manufacturer and retai ler of a range of architectural coatings, available principa! lly in th! e United States and Canada. Products include water-thinnable and solvent-thinnable general purpose coatings (paints, stains and clear finishes) for use by the general public, contractors and industrial and commercial users. Products are marketed under various registered brand names, including Regal, Super Spec, MoorGard, Aura, Nattura, ben, Coronado, Insl-x and Lenmar.

Johns Manville (JM) is a manufacturer and marketer of products for building insulation, mechanical insulation, commercial roofing and roof insulation, as well as fibers and nonwovens for commercial, industrial and residential applications. JM serves markets that include aerospace, automotive and transportation, air handling, appliance, HVAC, pipe insulation, filtration, waterproofing, building, flooring, interiors and wind energy. The Shaw Industries Group, Inc. (Shaw) is a carpet manufacturer based on both revenue and volume of production. Shaw designs and manufactures over 3,000 styles of tufted carpet, tufted and woven rugs, laminate and wood flooring for residential and commercial use under about 30 brand and trade names and under certain private labels. Shaw also provides installation services and sells ceramic and vinyl tile along with sheet vinyl. Forest River, Inc. (Forest River) is a manufacturer of recreational vehicles, utility, cargo and office trailers, buses and pontoon boats. Albecca Inc. (Albecca) does business primarily under the Larson-Juhl name. Albecca designs, manufactures and distributes a range of products, including wood and metal molding, matboard, foamboard, glass, equipment and other framing supplies in the United States, Canada and 15 countries outside of North America.

FlightSafety International Inc. (FSI) is engaged in professional aviation training services to individuals, businesses (including certain commercial aviation companies) and the United States. Government. FSI primarily provides training to pilots, aircraft maint enance technicians, flight attendants and dispatchers who op! erate and! support a range of business, commercial and military aircraft. NetJets Inc. (NJ) is a provider of fractional ownership programs for general aviation aircraft. TTI, Inc. (TTI) is a specialty distributor of passive, interconnect, electromechanical and discrete components used by customers in the manufacturing and assembling of electronic products. TTI’s customer base includes original equipment manufacturers, electronic manufacturing services, original design manufacturers, military and commercial customers, as well as design and system engineers. TTI services a range of industries, including telecommunications, medical devices, computers and office equipment, aerospace, automotive and consumer electronics.

Finance and Financial Products

The Company’s finance and financial products businesses include manufactured housing and finance (Clayton Homes), transportation equipment leasing (XTRA), furniture leasing (CORT), as well as various miscellaneou s financing activities. Clayton Homes, Inc. (Clayton) is a vertically integrated manufactured housing company. As of December 31, 2012, Clayton operated 34 manufacturing plants in 12 states. Clayton’s homes are marketed in 48 states through a network of 1,441 retailers, including 323 company-owned home centers. XTRA is a transportation equipment lessor operating under the XTRA Lease brand name. XTRA manages a diverse fleet of approximately 82,000 units located at 58 facilities throughout the United States and two facilities in Canada. The fleet includes over-the-road and storage trailers, chassis, temperature controlled vans and flatbed trailers. CORT Business Services Corporation is a provider of rental relocation services, including rental furniture, accessories and related services in the rent-to-rent segment of the furniture rental industry.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Laura Brodbeck]

    Stocks moving in the Premarket included:

    Boeing(NYSE: BA) lost 1.98 percent in premarket trade after falling 0.25 percent on Friday. Alcoa(NYSE: AA) fell 1.32 percent in premarket trade after gaining 3.58 percent last week. Perrigo Company PLC (NYSE: PRGO) gained 0.36 percent in premarket trade after rising 0.36 percent on Friday. Berkshire HathawayInc (NASDAQ: BRKB) gained 0.27 percent in premarket trade after increasing 5.95 percent last week.

    Earnings

  • [By WALLSTCHEATSHEET]

    Berkshire Hathaway is an investment manager with a variety of investments in a number of industries. It is being reported that the company made significant gains from investments during the Financial Crisis. The stock has been flying higher in recent years and is now consolidating near all time high prices. Over the last four quarters, earnings and revenues have been rising. Relative to its peers and sector, Berkshire Hathaway  has been an average year-to-date performer. Look for Berkshire Hathaway to OUTPERFORM.

  • [By Tiernan Ray]

    Berkshire Hathaway (BRKB) this afternoon reported Q2 operating earnings per Class-A share of $2,384, up 6% from the year-earlier period, and topping a consensus for $2,163 according to FactSet.

    The company’s book value per share rose 7.6% from the beginning of the year to $122,900.

    The company saw a $322 million gain on investments, better than the prior-year’s $81 million gain, and a $300 million gain on derivatives, versus a year-earlier $693 million loss.

    Total revenue for the company from all its holdings was up 16% at $44.69 billion.

    Total assets rose to $446.56 billion from $427.45 billion a year earlier.

    The full federal filing for the quarter is available on the company’s Web site.

    In the filing, Warren Buffett and his team outlined gains in the underwriting business, railroads, and energy, with a “mixed” bag of results for manufacturing, services and retail:

    Our insurance businesses generated significant underwriting gains in the first six months of 2013 and 2012. Our railroad and utilities and energy businesses continued to generate significant earnings in 2013. Earnings from our manufacturing, service and retailing businesses in 2013 were mixed, but as indicated in the table above earnings from these businesses increased about 4.8% during the second quarter and 7.4% during the first six months […] Premiums written [by Geico] in the second quarter and first six months of 2013 were $4,548 million and $9,389 million, respectively, representing increases of 11.7% and 11.5%, respectively, compared to the corresponding 2012 periods. Premiums earned in the second quarter and first six months of 2013 increased $465 million (11.3%) and $848 million (10.4%), respectively, compared to premiums earned in the corresponding 2012 periods. The growth in premiums earned for voluntary auto was 10.4%, reflecting an increase in policies-in-fo rce of 8.2% over the past year, and to a lesser d