Hot Insurance Stocks For 2015

NEW YORK (TheDeal) — Jeff Bezos closed the purchase of the Washington Post on an auspicious news day. 

The change in control on Oct. 1 coincided with the shutdown of the Federal government and the debut of the health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act. As a news story, political discord plays well in the Washington Post’s local audience and among the readers outside the Beltway who make up 90% of its online audience. 

The dual local-national nature of the Washington news market presents a dilemma for Bezos and the paper’s leadership. 

Should the Washington Post focus on the attractive markets in Washington,  Maryland and Virginia, or devote the resources to develop national coverage and advertising, which it has attempted to do in the past?  There is more for the Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) founder and CEO to contemplate. Bloomberg LP and Politico LLC have introduced custom information services  in Washington that bill thousands of dollars a year.  Their success on the Washington Post’s home field underscores the opportunity to provide lucrative information services to lobbyists, contractors and others who do business in Washington.  The speculation about how the e-commerce tycoon will remake the paper has been boundless since Bezos announced his $250 million investment this Summer. Basic questions about geographic emphasis and the application of technology to consumer or professional audiences provide a starting point for contemplating the Amazon Post.  “They need to decide what they are going to be,” said Merrill Brown, director of Montclair State University’s School of Communication and Media, who was the founding editor-in-chief of MSNBC.com and a Washington Post reporter.  In addition to chasing stories, Brown suggests, the editorial mission would include product development and collaboration with the business side of the paper. Changing the news model likely will involve rethinking such fundamental journalistic principles as the church-state division, which could create profitable news formats but could also produce newsroom turmoil. Especially since Bezos is known equally as much for his volcanic temper as for his business vision.  “The most important thing to do there is to really create a different culture,” Brown said of the newspaper. Gannett Co.’s  (GCI) appointment of MarketWatch founder Larry Kramer as the publisher of USA Today could serve as an example of an online-minded overhaul.  “The reality is there isn’t a deep bench of great digital thinking there,” he said of the Washington Post.  Bloomberg and Politico have demonstrated the market for high-priced digital products in Washington. In early 2011, the former introduced Bloomberg Government and the latter, Politico Pro. Lobbyists, congressmembers, staffers, association executives, contractors and others pay thousands of dollars a year for subscriptions to the real-time news services.  “That market was just taken away from the Post,” said Ken Doctor, a consultant with Outsell Inc. in Burlingame, Calif. “Under Bezos, they could contest that market.”  The Amazon founder’s deep pockets will help. Doctor said Bezos would be more open to exploring new markets and formats than the prior ownership, which remained committed to the newspaper model. 

Hot Insurance Stocks 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 WALLSTCHEATSHEET.COM]

    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

Hot Insurance Stocks 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.COM]

    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.

Hot Insurance Stocks For 2015: Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd (FRFHF)

Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited (Fairfax) is a financial services holding company. The Company, through its subsidiaries, is principally engaged in property and casualty insurance and reinsurance and the associated investment management. The Company’s segments consist of Insurance, Reinsurance, Insurance and Reinsurance Other, Runoff, and Corporate and Other. On December 22, 2011, the Company completed the acquisition of 75% interests in Sporting Life Inc. On August 16, 2011, the Company acquired William Ashley China Corporation. On March 24, 2011, an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Fairfax completed the acquisition of The Pacific Insurance Berhad. On February 9, 2011, an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Fairfax completed the acquisition of First Mercury Financial Corporation. In October 2012, its RiverStone runoff subsidiary acquired all the outstanding shares of Brit Insurance Limited. Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Charles Sizemore]

    BlackBerry (BBRY) has been a value trap that has ensnared more than its share of value hunting investors in recent years — yours truly included. Buying BlackBerry stock will also likely go down in history as the single-worst investing mistake in the otherwise illustrious career of Prem Watsa — the chairman of Fairfax Financial (FRFHF) and the man commonly known as the “Warren Buffett of Canada.”

  • [By Dan Caplinger]

    That business model has been so successful that other, smaller insurance companies have emulated it. For instance, Fairfax Financial (NASDAQOTH: FRFHF  ) and Markel (NYSE: MKL  ) have used the same investing model to take advantage of their respective core insurance businesses. Both Fairfax and Markel have had substantial success, showing the power of using temporarily available premium reserves to make higher-return investments.

Hot Insurance Stocks For 2015: The Travelers Companies Inc.(TRV)

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

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Ben Levisohn]

    Shares of Johnson & Johnson have fallen 1.8% to $93.36 today, helping to contribute to a weaker Dow today. Other big Dow losers include Travelers (TRV), which is off 1.7% at $84.98 and Verizon Communications (VZ), which has dropped 1.6% to $47.56.

  • [By Shauna O’Brien]

    Insurance company Travelers Companies Inc (TRV) reported higher fourth quarter and full year results on Tuesday, which came in well above analysts’ estimates.

    TRV’s Earnings in Brief

    TRV reported Q4 earnings of $988 million, or $2.70 per share, up from just $304 million, or 78 cents per share, a year ago. Excluding special items, earnings were $981 million, or $2.68 per share,  up from $278 million, or 72 cents per share, last year. Analysts expected to see earnings of $2.10 per share. Total revenue for the quarter was  $6.74 billion, up from $6.48 billion last year. Analysts expected to see revenue of $5.45 billion. For FY2013, the company reported earnings of $3.67 billion, or $9.74 per share, up from 2.47 billion, or $6.30 per share, in 2012. Revenue for the year was $26.19 billion from $22.19 billion in 2012. On average, analysts expected to see earnings of $8.91 per share and revenue of $22.56 billion.

    CEO Commentary

    Chairman and CEO Jay Fishman commented on the company’s Q4 results: ”Fourth quarter operating income of almost a billion dollars provided a very strong finish to an excellent 2013. We are encouraged by the strength of our 2013 results, and we remain committed to taking the steps necessary to continue to improve returns consistent with our long-held goal of producing mid-teens operating return on equity over time.”

    TRV’s Dividend

    TRV’s board announced that it will pay its next quarterly dividend of 50 cents on March 31 to shareholders of record on March 10.  This dividend remains unchanged from the company’s previous quarterly dividend. TRV will likely announce a dividend increase in April. 

     Stock Performance 

    Travelers Companies shares were mostly flat during pre-market trading Tuesday.

  • [By Laura Brodbeck]

    Notable earnings releases expected on Tuesday include:

    Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) is expected to report fourth quarter EPS of $1.20 on revenue of $17.95 billion, compared to last year’s EPS of $1.19 on revenue of $17.56 billion. Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) is expected to report fourth quarter EPS of $0.65 on revenue of $31.04 billion, compared to last year’s EPS of $0.45 on revenue of $30.04 billion. The Travelers Company (NYSE: TRV) is expected to report fourth quarter EPS of $1.66 on revenue of $5.79 billion, compared to last year’s EPS of $2.22 on revenue of $5.70 billion. Delta Air Lines Inc. (NYSE: DAL) is expected to report fourth quarter EPS of $0.63 on revenue of $9.02 billion, compared to last year’s EPS of $0.28 on revenue of $8.60 billion. Halliburton Company (NYSE: HAL) is expected to report fourth quarter EPS of $0.89 on revenue of $7.56 billion compared to last year’s EPS of $0.63on revenue of $7.29 billion.

    Economics

  • [By Sue Chang]

    Travelers Inc. (TRV) , the only financial stock in the Dow reporting Tuesday, is expected to turn in earnings of $2.16 a share in the fourth quarter.

Hot Insurance Stocks 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.

Hot Insurance Stocks 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.

Hot Insurance Stocks 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.

Hot Insurance Stocks For 2015: Prudential Financial Inc.(PRU)

Prudential Financial, Inc., through its subsidiaries, offers various financial products and services in the United States, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. The company operates through three divisions: The U.S. Retirement Solutions and Investment Management, The U.S. Individual Life and Group Insurance, and The International Insurance and Investments. The U.S. Retirement Solutions and Investment Management division provides individual variable and fixed annuity products, as well as offers retirement investment and income products and services to retirement plan sponsors in the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors. This division also provides investment management and advisory services to the public and private marketplace. The U.S. Individual Life and Group Insurance division offers individual variable life, term life, and universal life insurance products; and group life, long-term and short-term group disability, long-term care, and group corporate-, bank-and trus t-owned life insurance products to institutional clients. This division also sells accidental death and dismemberment, and other ancillary coverages, as well as provides plan administrative services; and offers preferred provider and indemnity dental coverage plans to clients. The International Insurance and Investments division provides international individual life insurance products in Japan, Korea, and other foreign countries; and offers proprietary and non-proprietary asset management, investment advice, and services to retail and institutional clients internationally. In addition, the company engages in real estate brokerage franchise business, which involves marketing its franchises to the real estate companies. Further, it provides institutional clients and government agencies with various services in connection with the relocation of their employees. Prudential Financial, Inc. was founded in 1875 and is headquartered in Newark, New Jersey.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By John Kell]

    Prudential Financial Inc.’s(PRU) fourth-quarter loss widened, as the insurer recorded a jump in net investment losses, particularly due to changes in the value of the Japanese yen.

  • [By Wallace Witkowski]

    Insurers such as Aflac Inc. (AFL) , Allstate Corp. (ALL) , Aetna Inc. (AET) , Cigna Corp. (CI)  and Prudential Financial Inc. (PRU)  will also report, along with exchange operators Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. (NDAQ)  and CME Group Inc. (CME) . 

  • [By Wallace Witkowski]

    What’s more, the financial sector is expected to be the biggest drag on revenue growth for the quarter. With the S&P 500 expected to post 0.3% revenue growth for the fourth quarter, revenue for the financial sector is expected to decline by 10.2%, according to Butters. Much of that has to do with Prudential Financial Inc. (PRU) , which had a big one-time revenue gain due to pension risk-transfer transactions in the year-ago quarter. But even without the insurer, revenue for the sector is still expected to decline by 0.3%, according to Butters.

  • [By Ben Levisohn]

    Remember on Friday when Janney picked MetLife (MET) over Prudential (PRU)? Well, today, UBS, one of the big MetLife bulls, cut shares of the life-insurance giant to Neutral from Buy.