Best Insurance Stocks To Own For 2015

Alamy • BP got a rare piece of good news from a court Wednesday: A judge ruled that — for now — it doesn’t have to pay out compensation to “victims” of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill who can’t show they actually had losses or injuries linked to the disaster. Yes, you read that right: Up until now, according to BP, some people were getting money for “fictitious or wholly non-existent losses.” • The news out of the Washington shutdown: Obama says he won’t be blackmailed. No discussions of GOP demands will be heard while the government stays closed. “Negotiations now would lead to more demands, he said. “I have bent over backwards to deal with the Republican party.” His direct message to Wall Street. Be afraid. Be very afraid. “When you have a situation in which a faction is willing to default on U.S. obligations, then we are in trouble,” Obama said on CNBC. • And why is Congress fighting, anyway? State governments are already doing a fine job cutting the legs out from under Obamacare. The New York Times informs us that, thanks to 26 GOP-controlled state governments rejecting the Medicare expansion, two-thirds of single moms and poor African Americans will still lack health coverage after the ACA is in full effect, as will more than half of low-wage workers who are now uninsured. In essence, by refusing to cooperate, theses states will create a gap class: people who make too much to get Medicaid, but too little qualify for Obamacare subsidies. • The 21st century has featured a “lost decade” for young adults on the employment front: Those who have recently entered the job market are less likely to be employed and earn less than the young people of two decades ago, reveals a new study from Georgetown University. The employment rate for young adults fell from 84 percent in 2000 to 72 percent in 2012. • Because we’re not farmers, we’ve been totally unaware that, a few years back, a couple of ex-Google engineers created a whole new kind of crop insurance. Unlike traditional federal insurance, which only guarantees a farmer will break even, the Climate Corp offers policies that let farmers literally hedge the weather, and cover their lost profits automatically if Mother Nature doesn’t provide. It’s a clever business model for all concerned, which is probably why agri-giant Monsanto (MON) just inked a deal to buy Climate Corp. for $930 million.

Best Insurance Stocks To Own 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 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.

  • [By Monica Wolfe]

    American International Group (AIG)

    Pzena’s fourth largest position is in American International Group, or AIG. The guru maintains 10,491,924 shares, representing 3.3% of his total portfolio and 0.71% of the company’s shares outstanding.

Best Insurance Stocks To Own 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.

Best Insurance Stocks To Own For 2015: Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc. (MMC)

Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc., a professional services company, provides advice and solutions in the areas of risk, strategy, and human capital. It operates in two segments, Risk and Insurance Services, and Consulting. The Risk and Insurance Services segment provides risk management and insurance broking, reinsurance broking, and insurance program management services for businesses, public entities, insurance companies, associations, professional services organizations, and private clients. The Consulting segment offers advice and services to the managements of organizations in the area of human resource consulting, comprising retirement and investments, health and benefits, outsourcing and talent; and strategy and risk management consulting, such as management, economic, and brand consulting. The company also provides investment consulting services for endowments and foundations in the United States; health and benefit recordkeeping, and employee enrollment technology; human resource knowledge, data, and solutions for professionals in various industries; and Medicaid policy consulting services. It principally serves customers in the United States, the United Kingdom, the Asia Pacific, and Continental Europe. Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc. was founded in 1871 and is headquartered in New York, New York.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Christina Rexrode]

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

  • [By Ben Levisohn]

    Progressive (PGR) was downgraded from Strong Buy to Market Perform at Raymond James, while Marsh & McLennan (MMC) was cut to Outperform from Strong Buy.

  • [By Keith Speights]

    Flourishing
    While the federal Obamacare exchanges flail, private health insurance exchanges are flourishing. For example, Mercer, a subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC  ) , announced in April that several large insurers — including Aetna, Cigna, Humana, and UnitedHealthcare — would be part of its Mercer Marketplace private exchange. Mercer Marketplace allows employers to contribute a defined amount for its employees to use on health coverage. Employees use the system to shop around for the insurance plans that best meet their needs.

Best Insurance Stocks To Own For 2015: CNA Financial Corp (CNA)

CNA Financial Corporation (CNAF), incorporated in 1967, is an insurance holding company. The Company’s core business commercial property and casualty insurance operations operate in two segments: CNA Specialty and CNA Commercial. Its non-core businesses are managed in two business segments: Life & Group Non-Core and Corporate & Other Non-Core. The Company’s insurance products primarily include commercial property and casualty coverages, including surety. Its services include risk management, information services, and warranty and claims administration. Its products and services are marketed through independent agents, brokers and managing general underwriters to a wide variety of customers, including small, medium and large businesses, associations, professionals and other groups. CNA’s property and casualty and remaining life and group insurance operations are primarily conducted by Continental Casualty Company (CCC), The Continental Insurance Company, Western Surety Company and Continental Assurance Company (CAC). On June 10, 2011, CNA completed the acquisition of CNA Surety Corporation. In July 2012, the Company acquired Hardy Underwriting Bermuda Ltd. On December 14, 2012, the Company sold SUR Insurance Agency, Inc. and The Bond Exchange to California Contractors Insurance Services.

CNA Specialty

CNA Specialty provides professional and management liability and other coverages through property and casualty products and services, both domestically and abroad, through a network of brokers, independent agencies and managing general underwriters. CNA Specialty provides solutions for managing the risks of its clients, including architects, lawyers, accountants, health care professionals, financial intermediaries and public and private companies. Product offerings also include surety and fidelity bonds and warranty services.

CNA Specialty includes four business groups: Professional & Management Liabilit y, International, Surety, and Warranty and Alternative Risks! . Professional & Management Liability provides management and professional liability insurance and risk management services and other specialized property and casualty coverages in the United States. This group provides professional liability coverages to various professional firms, including architects, real estate agents, small and mid-sized accounting firms, law firms and technology firms. Professional & Management Liability also provides D&O, employment practices, fiduciary and fidelity coverages. Products within Professional & Management Liability are distributed through brokers, agents and managing general underwriters. Professional & Management Liability, through CNA HealthPro, also offers insurance products to serve the healthcare delivery system. Products include professional liability and associated standard property and casualty coverages, and are distributed on a national basis through brokers, agents and managing general underwriters. Customer segments include l ong term care facilities, allied health care providers, life sciences, dental professionals and mid-size and large health care facilities.

International provides similar management and professional liability insurance and other specialized property and casualty coverages in Canada and Europe. Surety consists primarily of CNA Surety Corporation (CNA Surety) and its insurance subsidiaries and offers small, medium and large contract and commercial surety bonds. CNA Surety provides surety and fidelity bonds in all 50 states through a combined network of independent agencies.

Warranty and Alternative Risks provides extended service contracts and related products that provide protection from the financial burden associated with mechanical breakdown and other related losses, primarily for vehicles and portable electronic communication devices. These products are distributed through and administered by a wholly owned subsidiary, CNA National Warranty Corpo ration, or through third party administrators.

! CNA Comme! rcial

CNA Commercial works with an independent agency distribution system and a network of brokers to market a range of property and casualty insurance products and services to small, middle-market and large businesses and organizations domestically and abroad. Products include standard and excess property coverages, as well as marine coverage, and boiler and machinery. Casualty products include standard casualty insurance products such as workers’ compensation, general and product liability, commercial auto and umbrella coverages. It also offers pecialized loss-sensitive insurance programs to those customers viewed as higher risk and less predictable in exposure.

The Business insurance group serves smaller commercial accounts and the Commercial insurance group serves middle markets and larger risks. In addition, CNA Commercial provides total risk management services relating to claim and information services to the insurance marketplace, through a wholly owned subsidiary, CNA ClaimPlus, Inc., a third party administrator. The International insurance group primarily consists of the commercial product lines of its operations in Europe, Canada, as well as Hawaii.

CNA Select Risk (Select Risk) includes excess and surplus lines coverages. Risk provides specialized insurance for selected commercial risks on both an individual customer and program basis. Select Risk’s products are distributed throughout the United States through specialist producers, program agents and brokers.

Life & Group Non-Core

The Life & Group Non-Core segment includes the results of the life and group lines of business that are in run-off. It retains block of group reinsurance and life settlement contracts.

Corporate & Other Non-Core

Corporate & Other Non-Core primarily includes certain corporate expenses. This also includes interest on corporate debt, and the results of certain prop erty and casualty business in run-off, including CNA Re and ! A&EP.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Amanda Alix]

    Take Berkshire’s purchase of CNA Financial’s (NYSE: CNA  ) and AIG’s asbestos liability in 2010 and 2011, respectively. For a total of $3.65 billion, Buffett took on $3.5 billion of liability in AIG’s case, and $1.6 billion from CNA. This gave Berkshire a nice big bag of cash to invest, while asbestos cases continued to wend their way through the courts for years. Meanwhile, two troubled insurers received the Berkshire Hathaway brand of security regarding their own future liability in that arena.

  • [By Amanda Alix]

    This is the beauty of the insurance model, and its charm has attracted investing greats like Warren Buffett, who may have pioneered this latest trend through his own company, Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A  )   (NYSE: BRK-B  ) . In 2010, Berkshire took on AIG’s asbestos liability for a hefty fee, and did the same for CNA Financial (NYSE: CNA  ) the following year. There’s little doubt that Buffett added to his wealth by wisely investing the $3.65 billion he received in those two deals.

  • [By Tom Stoukas]

    Centrica Plc (CNA), the largest energy supplier to U.K. homes, lost 2.3 percent to 366.9 pence. JPMorgan Chase & Co. downgraded the shares to neutral from overweight, citing proposals from Britain’s Labour Party to freeze energy bills and break up the country’s six biggest power suppliers.

Best Insurance Stocks To Own For 2015: MBIA Inc (MBI)

MBIA Inc. (MBIA), incorporated on November 12, 1986, together with its consolidated subsidiaries, operates the financial guarantee insurance businesses in the industry and is a provider of asset management advisory services. These activities are managed through three business segments: United States public finance insurance, structured finance and international insurance, and advisory services. The Company’s United States public finance insurance business is operated through National Public Finance Guarantee Corporation and its subsidiaries (National), its structured finance and international insurance business is primarily operated through MBIA Insurance Corporation and its subsidiaries (MBIA Corp.), and its asset management advisory services business is primarily operated through Cutwater Holdings, LLC and its subsidiaries (Cutwater). It also manages certain business activities through its corporate, asset/liability products, and conduit segments. The corporate segment includes revenues and expenses that arise from general corporate activities. Funding programs managed through the asset/liability products and conduit segments are in wind-down.

MBIA Corp. owns MBIA UK Insurance Limited (MBIA UK), a financial guarantee insurance company that is regulated and supervised by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) in the United Kingdom and is authorized to carry out insurance business in the United Kingdom and in the European Economic Area on a cross border services basis. Its financial guarantee insurance generally provides investors with an unconditional and irrevocable guarantee of the payment of the principal, interest or other amounts owing on insured obligations when due or, in the event that the Company has the right at its discretion to accelerate insured obligations upon default or otherwise, upon its election to accelerate. The Company conducts its financial guarantee business, as well as related reinsurance, advisory and portfolio services, through its subsidiaries National Publi! c Finance Guarantee Corporation (National), its United States (United States) public finance-only financial guarantee company, and MBIA Insurance Corporation and its subsidiaries (MBIA Corp.), which write global structured finance and non-United States public finance financial guarantee insurance.

Insurance operations

The Company’s United States public finance insurance business is conducted through National, and its structured finance and international insurance operations are conducted through MBIA Corp. and its subsidiaries. It also issue insurance policies to guarantee the payment of principal and interest on municipal obligations being traded in the secondary market upon the request of a broker or an existing holder of uninsured bonds, where premium is generally paid by the owner of the obligation. In addition, the Company has provided financial guarantees to debt service reserve funds. The primary risk in its insurance operations is that o f adverse credit performance in the insured portfolio. It seeks to maintain a diversified insured portfolio and have designed each insured portfolio with the aim of managing and diversifying risk based on a range of criteria, including revenue source, issue size, type of asset, industry concentrations, type of bond and geographic area.

Through the Company’s reinsurance of United States public finance financial guarantees from MBIA Corp. and Financial Guaranty Insurance Company (FGIC), National’s insurance portfolio consists of municipal bonds, including tax-exempt and taxable indebtedness of United States political subdivisions, as well as utility districts, airports, health care institutions, higher educational facilities, student loan issuers, housing authorities and other similar agencies and obligations issued by private entities that finance projects that serve a substantial public purpose. Municipal bonds and privately issued bonds used for the fina ncing of public purpose projects are generally supported by ! taxes, as! sessments, user fees or tariffs related to the use of these projects, lease payments or other similar types of revenue streams. As of December 31, 2012, MBIA Corp. had 899 policies outstanding in its insured portfolio. In addition, MBIA Corp. had 199 insurance policies outstanding relating to asset/liability products liabilities issued by MBIA Inc. and its subsidiaries.

Advisory Services

In the Company’s asset management advisory services business its registered investment advisors provide fixed-income asset management services for third parties and the investment portfolios of the Company and its affiliates (including the wind-down businesses) on a fee-for-service basis. Its advisory services are offered in two product lines, traditional and structured. Within the traditional product line, Cutwater offers cash management, customized asset management, discretionary asset management and fund accounting services to governments, insurance companies (including the Company’s insurance subsidiaries), corporations, pension funds, unions, endowments, foundations and investment companies in both pooled and separate account formats. These services are offered through registered investment advisers, and Cutwater receives asset management and administrative fees as compensation. Within the structured product line, Cutwater manages asset/liability programs and conduits (the wind-down businesses), Collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) and other funding vehicles for banks, insurance companies, program trustees and investment companies, and it earns base and performance fees for its services. Cutwater’s advisory services are offered through two principal operating subsidiaries: Cutwater Asset Management Corp. (Cutwater-AMC), an SEC-registered investment adviser and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) member firm, and Cutwater Investor Services Corp. (Cutwater-ISC), an SEC-registered investment adviser.

< p>Wind-down Business

The asset/liability produc! ts busine! ss historically raised funds for investment through two sources, such as issuance of customized investment agreements by the Company and one of its subsidiaries for bond proceeds and other funds, and issuance of medium-term notes (MTNs) with varying maturities issued by its subsidiary MBIA Global Funding, LLC (GFL). Each of these products is guaranteed by MBIA Corp. In addition, GFL would lend the proceeds of its GFL MTN issuances to MBIA Inc. (GFL Loans). The Company primarily purchased domestic securities and lent a portion of the proceeds from investment agreements and GFL MTNs to its subsidiary Euro Asset Acquisition Limited, which primarily purchased foreign assets as permitted under the Company’s investment guidelines. The Company’s conduit segment is principally operated through Meridian Funding Company, LLC (Meridian) and, formerly, Triple-A One Funding Corporation (Triple-A One). The conduits were used by banks and other financial institutions to raise funds for their customers in the capital markets. During 2012, Triple-A One was liquated. The conduits provided funding for multiple customers through special purpose vehicles that issued commercial paper and MTNs.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Jake L’Ecuyer]

    MBIA (NYSE: MBI) was also up, gaining 9.08 percent to $14.53 after the company reported upbeat Q4 earnings.

    Equities Trading DOWN
    Shares of McDermott International (NYSE: MDR) were down 9.49 percent to $7.34 after the company reported a Q4 loss of $1.37 per share on revenue of $517.3 million. It also withdrew its previous outlook. Capital One Financial downgraded the stock from Equalweight to Underweight and cut the price target from $8.00 to $6.00.

  • [By Jake L’Ecuyer]

    MBIA (NYSE: MBI) was also up, gaining 8.18 percent to $14.41 after the company reported upbeat Q4 earnings.

    Equities Trading DOWN
    Shares of McDermott International (NYSE: MDR) were down 6.97 percent to $7.55 after the company reported a Q4 loss of $1.37 per share on revenue of $517.3 million. It also withdrew its previous outlook. Capital One Financial downgraded the stock from Equalweight to Underweight and cut the price target from $8.00 to $6.00.

  • [By MarketWatch]

    MBIA Inc. (MBI)  is expected to post a loss of 3 cents a share in the fourth quarter.

  • [By Christina Rexrode]

    Bond insurer MBIA Inc. (MBI)  was down, giving up some of its gains from the day before. The stock leapt more than 5% Thursday after the Journal reported that MBIA would settle a legal dispute with Nomura Holdings Inc., allowing it to put to rest another chunk of legal exposure related to soured mortgage-backed securities.

Best Insurance Stocks To Own For 2015: First American Financial Corp (FAF)

First American Financial Corporation, incorporated on January 14, 2008, through its subsidiaries, is engaged in the business of providing financial services through its title insurance and services segment and its specialty insurance segment. The Company operates in two segments: title insurance and services and specialty insurance.

The title insurance and services segment provides title insurance, closing and/or escrow services and similar or related services domestically and internationally in connection with residential and commercial real estate transactions. It also maintains, manages and provides access to title plant records and images and provides banking, trust and investment advisory services. The specialty insurance segment issues property and casualty insurance policies and sells home warranty products. In addition, its corporate function consists of certain financing facilities as well as the corporate services that support its business operation s.

Title Insurance and Services Segment

The Company’s title insurance and services segment issues title insurance policies on residential and commercial property in the United States and offers similar or related products and services internationally. This segment also provides closing and/or escrow services; accommodates tax-deferred exchanges of real estate; maintains, manages and provides access to title plant records and images, and provides banking, trust and investment advisory services. The Company conducts its title insurance and closing business through a network of direct operations and agents. Through this network, it issues policies in the 49 states that permit the issuance of title insurance policies and the District of Columbia. The Company also offers title insurance, closing services and similar or related products and services, either directly or through third parties in foreign countries, including Canada, the United Kingdom, A ustralia and various other markets.

The Company! distributes its title insurance policies and related products and services directly as well as through its agents through various channels. Its federal savings bank subsidiary offers trust and investment advisory services, deposit services and asset management services. As of December 31, 2012, the Company provides products and services in numerous countries outside of the United States, and its international operations accounted for approximately 7.9% of its title insurance and services segment revenues

Specialty Insurance Segment

The Company’s property and casualty insurance business provides insurance coverage to residential homeowners and renters for liability losses and typical hazards, such as fire, theft, vandalism and other types of property damage. The Company is licensed to issue policies in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and actively issue policies in 43 states. In its market, California, it also offers preferred risk aut o insurance to better compete with other carriers offering bundled home and auto insurance. Reinsurance is used to limit risk associated with natural disasters, such as windstorms, winter storms, wildfires and earthquakes.

The Company’s home warranty business provides residential service contracts that cover residential systems, such as heating and air conditioning systems, and certain appliances against failures that occur as the result of normal usage during the coverage period. Most of these policies are issued on resale residences, although policies are also available in some instances for new homes. Coverage is typically for one year and is renewable annually at the option of the contract holder and upon its approval. It sells renewals directly to consumers. As of December 31, 2012, home warranty business operates in 39 states and the District of Columbia.

The Company competes with Fidelity National Financial, Inc., Stewart Title Guaranty Com pany, Old Republic International Corporation and Lender Proc! essing Se! rvices, Inc.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By alicet236]

    First American Financial Corp (FAF): CEO Dennis J Gilmore sold 116,453 Shares

    CEO of First American Financial Corp (FAF) Dennis J Gilmore sold 116,453 shares on 02/04/2014 at an average price of $25.12. First American Financial Corporation was incorporated in the state of Delaware in January 2008 to serve as the holding company of The First American Corporation’s financial services business. First American Financial Corp has a market cap of $2.7 billion; its shares were traded at around $25.52 with a P/E ratio of 12.30 and P/S ratio of 0.56. The dividend yield of First American Financial Corp stocks is 1.88%.

  • [By Canadian Value]

    Position % of Fund Assets 1) First American Financial Corp. (FAF) 7.0% 2) Apple, Inc. (AAPL) 6.5% 3) Coinstar, Inc. (CSTR) 4.8% 4) EMC Corp. (EMC) 4.4% 5) Coach, Inc. (COH) 4.4% 6) Kohl’s Corp. (KSS) 4.1% 7) Blucora, Inc. (BCOR) 4.0% 8) Tetra Tech, Inc. (TTEK) 3.1% 9) OM Group, Inc. (OMG) 3.0% 10) American International Group, Inc. (AIG) 2.8% TOTAL 44.1% One area that we believe still offers some value in the market is in high quality, large‐cap technology stocks that may be momentarily out‐of‐favor as they transition from rapid growth to slower growth. In particular, we become interested when that transition is also accompanied by a change in capital allocation policies designed to return more cash to shareholders in the form of dividends and share repurchases. We believe that Apple and EMC are two of the absolute highest quality technology businesses in the world and both have recently announced very material, shareholder‐ friendly changes to how they will alloc ate capital.

  • [By Jon C. Ogg]

    First American Financial Corp. (NYSE: FAF) was raised to Outperform from Market Perform at Keefe Bruyette & Woods.

    Fidelity National Financial Inc. (NYSE: FNF) was raised to Outperform from Market Perform at Keefe Bruyette & Woods.

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

ING Groep N.V. (ING) 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 November 2013, the Company completed the sale of ING Hipotecaria to Banco Santander (Mexico), S.A. In December 2013, the Company completed the sale of its 33.3% interest in China Merchants Fund to its joint venture partners China Merchants Bank Co Ltd and China Merchants Securities Co Ltd, and divested ING Life Korea to MBK Partner s. Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Tom Stoukas]

    UniCredit SpA and Intesa Sanpaolo SpA (ISP), Italy’s biggest banks, dropped more than 1 percent as the nation’s benchmark FTSE MIB Index slid 1.2 percent. Rio Tinto Group led mining companies lower after a measure of Chinese manufacturing missed a preliminary estimate. Aryzta AG rallied the most in six months as the Swiss supplier of bakery products reported results that topped projections.

Best Insurance Stocks To Own For 2015: Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRK.B)

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 MONEYMORNING]

    An auto insurance company I really like is Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s (NYSE: BRK.B) Geico subsidiary.

    We’ve all seen the ads with the talking gecko, and whether you love the ads or hate them, you all know the company’s motto about 15 minutes and 15% savings. What a lot of people don’t know is that Geico is one of billionaire-investor Warren Buffett’s main sources of investable cash.

  • [By Lawrence Meyers]

    Of all the auto part companies, AZO stock has the best valuation and is still growing strong. While it does sit on $4 billion in debt, it’s cheap debt (3% interest), and has a $126 million cash backstop. Most of all, though, it has the kind of FCF that I so love, putting out between $900 million and $1 billion annually. AZO stock continues to power forward on 13.82% long-term projected growth,  and trades at a FY14 P/E of just 17. 

    Stocks to Buy: Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B)

    Finally in our list of stocks to buy and hold forever, we have the great Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B). The main appeal actually isn’t that BRK.B stock is run by Warren Buffet, though I’m sure people will worry when he’s gone. The core insurance business is thriving, and it continues to power BRK.B stock.

Best Insurance Stocks To Own 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 Own For 2015: Helvetia Holding AG (HELN)

Helvetia Holding AG is a Switzerland-based holding company of the Helvetia Group, an internationally active, all-lines insurance service group. The Company divides its activities into country markets Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Spain and Other insurance units, which include Austria, France and the global reinsurance business, as well as the Corporate segment, which includes all the Helvetia Group activities, as well as financing companies and the Company. Helvetia Holding AG classifies its activities as life business, non-life business and other activities. The life business offers life insurance, pension plans and annuities, among others. The non-life business includes property, motor vehicle, liability and transport policies, as well as health and accidental insurance coverage. The reinsurance business, among others, is included in Other activities business. The Company operates through its branch offices and subsidiaries. Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Tom Stoukas]

    Helvetia Holding AG (HELN) added 3.3 percent to 412 Swiss francs. Switzerland’s fourth-biggest insurer said first-half profit rose because of increased life-insurance sales and an acquisition in France. Net income climbed to 179.5 million Swiss francs ($192 million) in the six months through June, beating the average analyst estimate of 164.4 million francs.

Best Insurance Stocks To Own For 2015: Zurich Insurance Group AG (ZURN)

Zurich Insurance Group Limited is a Switzerland-based holding company engaged in the insurance sector. The Company provides a range of general and life insurance products and services for individuals, small business, mid-sized and large-sized companies, and multinational corporations. The Company offers its products and services through three business segments, namely General Insurance, Global life and Farmers. The General Insurance segment offers motor, home and commercial products and services for individuals, as well as small and large business. The Global life segment offers life insurance, savings, investment and pensions solutions. The Farmers segment includes farmers management services, which provides non-claims management services to the farmers exchange, as well as Farmers Re business, which includes reinsurance assumed from the Farmers Exchange by the Company’s group. Furthermore, the Company provides reinsurance and insurance business considered as non-core busine ss. Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Namitha Jagadeesh]

    Zurich Insurance Group AG (ZURN) lost 3.6 percent after second-quarter profit missed analysts’ estimates. Hennes & Mauritz AB (HMB) declined the most in seven weeks as Europe’s second-biggest clothing retailer reported worse-than-expected sales. BG Group Plc, which derives 20 percent of its oil-and-gas production from Egypt, slipped 2.4 percent as the death toll from nationwide violence in the most populous Arab country climbed above 500.

Best Insurance Stocks To Own For 2015: Old Republic International Corporation(ORI)

Old Republic International Corporation, through its subsidiaries, provides various insurance and mortgage guaranty products in North America. The company operates in three segments: General Insurance, Mortgage Guaranty, and Title Insurance. The General Insurance segment provides liability insurance coverages to businesses, government, and other institutions in commercial construction, forest products, energy, general manufacturing, and financial services industries; and transportation, including trucking and general aviation industries. It provides various insurance products, such as automobile extended warranty, aviation, commercial automobile insurance, general liability, home warranty, inland marine, travel accident, and workers? compensation, as well as liability coverage for claims arising from the acts of owners or employees, and protection for the physical assets of businesses. This segment also offers financial indemnity products, such as consumer credit indemnity , errors and omissions/directors and officers, guaranteed asset protection, and surety, as well as bonds that cover the exposures for losses of monies, or debt and equity securities due to acts of employee dishonesty. The Mortgage Guaranty segment insures first mortgage loans, primarily on residential properties incorporating one-to-four family dwelling units to mortgage bankers, brokers, commercial banks, and savings institutions. The Title Insurance segment provides lenders’ and owners’ title insurance policies to real estate purchasers and investors based upon searches of the public records. It also provides escrow closing and construction disbursement services; and real estate information products, national default management services, and services related to real estate transfers and loan transactions. Old Republic International Corporation markets its products directly, as well as through insurance agents and brokers. The company was founded in 1887 and is based in Chi cago, Illinois.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Lawrence Meyers]

    The part I like the most is that WGL sells energy credits and carbon offsets to retail customers. The company makes good money on these elements, selling to customers who just like to feel good about how they are “helping the environment”. WGL has a long history as an energy company and has paid a dividend for 37 years. It currently pays 4.3% annually.

    Old Republic International (ORI)

    The next of our dividend stocks is one you may have heard of: Old Republic International (ORI). Old Republic started back in 1887 and is an insurance company that offers a huge array of products. A lot of insurance products are very high margin, and Old Republic has mastered the art of selling these. Extended Automobile Warranty, Home Warranty an Travel Accident Insurance are great segments to be playing in.

  • [By Marc Bastow]

    Insurance underwriting company Old Republic (ORI) raised its quarterly dividend 5.8% to 18 cents per share, payable on Dec. 16 to shareholders of record as of Dec. 4.
    ORI Dividend Yield: 4.28%