Top 5 Insurance Stocks To Buy For 2014

A very rare indicator has spoken; this is a “breadth thrust” indicator, attributed to the late Marty Zweig, explains Mike Cintolo, editor of Cabot Market Letter.

In brief, the indicator is based on the 10-day ratio of the NYSE advance/decline line, which bottomed out at 41% and then very quickly reversed course to climb above 65%.

This “breadth thrust” indicator has only spoken five times since 1940 (July 1962, November 1962, December 1971, August 1982, and March 2009), and every time, it preceded a very profitable run for the market over the ensuing six and 12-month periods.

According to Sundial Capital, the average gain over six months was 20.0% and the average gain over 12 months was 30.2%. Considering this indicator a little deeper, we have a few thoughts.

First, five signals is a small sample, and thus not something you can hang your hat on. Furthermore, those five signals—unlike the recent one—occurred after major bear markets, so this one may not be as reliable.

Top 5 Insurance Stocks To Buy For 2014: American Financial Group Inc (AFG)

American Financial Group, Inc. (AFG), incorporated on July 1, 1997, is a holding company, which through subsidiaries, is engaged primarily in property and casualty insurance, focusing on specialized commercial products for businesses and in the sale of traditional fixed and fixed-indexed annuities in the individual, bank and education markets. The Company’s segment includes: property and casualty insurance, annuity, run-off long-term care and life and other. In August 2012, the Company sold its Medicare supplement and critical illness businesses.

Property and Casualty Insurance

AFG’s specialty property and casualty insurance operations consist of approximately 30 niche insurance businesses offering a range of commercial coverages. Under the property and transportation segment, inland and ocean marine provides coverage primarily for builders’ risk, contractors’ equipment, property, motor truck cargo, marine cargo, boat dealers, marina operato rs/dealers and excursion vessels. The agriculture-related business provides federally reinsured multi-peril crop (allied lines) insurance covering perils, as well as crop-hail, equine mortality and other coverages for operating farms/ranches and agribusiness operations on a nationwide basis. The commercial automobile business provides coverage for vehicles (such as buses and trucks) in a range of businesses, including the moving and storage and transportation industries, and a specialized physical damage product for the trucking industry.

Under the specialty casualty segment, executive and professional liability business markets coverage for directors and officers of businesses and non-profit organizations, errors and omissions, and provides non-United States medical malpractice insurance. The umbrella and excess liability business provides higher layer liability coverage in excess of primary layers. The excess and surplus business provides liability, umbrella and excess coverage for risks, using rates and forms that ge! nerally do not have to be approved by state insurance regulators. The general liability business provides coverage for contractor-related businesses, energy development and production risks, and environmental liability risks. The targeted programs includes coverage (primarily liability and property) for social service agencies, leisure, entertainment and non-profit organizations, customized solutions for other targeted markets and alternative risk programs using agency captives. The Workers’ Compensation provides coverage for prescribed benefits payable to employees who are injured on the job.

Under the specialty financial segment, fidelity and surety provides fidelity and crime coverage for government, mercantile and financial institutions and surety coverage for various types of contractors and public and private corporations. Lease and loan services provides coverage for insurance risk management programs for lending and leasing institutions, including equi pment leasing and collateral and mortgage protection.

Annuity Operations

AFG’s annuity operations is engaged primarily in the sale of fixed and fixed-indexed annuities in the individual, bank and education markets through independent producers and also sell annuities through direct relationships with banks. Annuities are long-term retirement saving instruments that benefit from income accruing on a tax-deferred basis. The issuer of the annuity collects premiums, credits interest or earnings on the policy and pays out a benefit upon death, surrender or annuitization. Single premium annuities are generally issued in exchange for a one-time lump-sum premium payment. Certain annuities, primarily in the education market, have premium payments that are flexible in both amount and timing as determined by the policyholder and are generally made through payroll deductions.

A fixed-indexed annuity provides policyholders with the opportunity to receive a crediting rate tied, in part, to the performanc! e of an e! xisting market index (generally the S&P 500) while protecting against the related downside risk through a guarantee of principal (excluding surrender charges, market value adjustments, and certain benefit charges). AFG purchases call options designed to substantially offset the effect of the index participation in the liabilities associated with fixed-indexed annuities.

Run-off long-term care and life

The majority of AFG’s investment in its run-off long-term care and life operations (including 100% of its long-term care business) is in the following subsidiaries: United Teacher Associates Insurance Company, Continental General Insurance Company and Manhattan National Life Insurance Company. United Teacher Associates Insurance Company’s products include Long-term care, life and annuities. Continental General Insurance Company’s products include Long-term care, life and annuities.

Other Operations

Through subsidiaries, AFG is engaged in a range of other operations, including commercial real estate operations in Cincinnati (office buildings and The Cincinnatian Hotel), New Orleans (Le Pavillon Hotel), Whitefield, New Hampshire (Mountain View Grand Resort), Chesapeake Bay (Skipjack Cove Yachting Resort and Bay Bridge Marina), Charleston (Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina), Palm Beach (Sailfish Marina and Resort), Florida City, Florida (retail commercial development) and apartments in Louisville and Pittsburgh.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Ben Levisohn]

    Shares of American International Group have dropped 1.7% to $49.67 at 1:19 p.m. today, while American Financial Group (AFG) has, dropped 0.2% to $57.23, HCC Insurance (HCC) is little changed at $45.12, Travelers (TRV) has dipped 0.1% to $83.52 and Chubb (CB) is off 0.1% at $86.58.

Top 5 Insurance Stocks To Buy For 2014: Metlife Inc (MET)

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

Insurance Products

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Retirement Products

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

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

Corporate Benefit Funding

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

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

Auto & Home

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

International

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

Corporate & Other

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

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Stephen Quickel]

    MetLife (MET)

    MetLife is one of the oldest and largest American financial companies, providing insurance, annuities, and employee benefit programs to 90 million customers in 50 countries. Its stock is also one of the cheapest at just 8.6 times earnings.

  • [By Ben Levisohn]

    But there are winners–and they’re any stock that’s helped by higher rates. There are mutual fund companies with big money-market fund businesses, who wouldn’t be forced to run these funds for what is essentially free. Federated Investors (FII), for instance, has jumped 2.1% to $27.99. Life insurance companies, too, are rising because they should be able to earn more on their investments. MetLife (MET), for instance, has risen 1.3% to $53.03.

Top 5 Insurance Stocks To Buy For 2014: AIA Group Ltd (AAIGF.PK)

AIA Group Limited is an investment holding company. The Company and its subsidiaries are engaged in provision of products and services to individuals and businesses for their insurance, protection, savings, investment and retirement needs. The Company operates life insurance business, providing life, pensions, and accident and health products to customers in its local market, and distributes related investment and other financial services products. The Company serves more than 100,000 corporate clients with more than 13 million group insurance scheme members. It has operations in Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, China, Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, India, Australia, Taiwan, New Zealand, Macau and Brunei. As of November 30, 2012, its subsidiaries included American International Assurance Company, Limited (AIA Co.), American International Assurance Company (Bermuda) Limited (AIA-B), AIA Australia Limited and PT AIA Financial, among others. Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Holly LaFon]

    Berkowitz’s top holdings continue to be: American International Group Inc. (AIG), AIA Group Ltd. (AAIGF.PK), Sears Holdings Corp. (SHLD), Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK.B) and Brookfield Asset Management Inc. (BAM).

Top 5 Insurance Stocks To Buy For 2014: Fidelity National Financial Inc. (FNF)

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

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Damian Illia]

    The firm is currently Zacks Rank # 2 – Buy, and it also has a longer-term recommendation of “OutPerform”. For investors looking for a Zacks Rank # 1 – Strong Buy, Alleghany Corp. (Y), Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRK.B) and Fidelity (FNF) could be the options.

  • [By Adam J. Wiederman]

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

Top 5 Insurance Stocks To Buy For 2014: Sun Life Financial Inc.(SLF)

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

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Monica Gerson]

    Sun Life Financial (NYSE: SLF) shares gained 2.47% to create a new 52-week high of $34.80 on Q3 results. Sun Life reported its Q3 operating net income from continuing operations of $422 million.

  • [By Amanda Alix]

    Insurance companies have created an entire industry based upon risk, and except for AIG (NYSE: AIG  ) during the financial crisis, it has worked out pretty well. So, it’s not a stretch to imagine a large life insurer like Canada’s Sun Life Financial (NYSE: SLF  ) assuming the pension liability for the Canadian Wheat Board’s defined benefit plan in a recent $147 million deal, the first such accord in Canada’s history.

  • [By Tim Brugger]

    Initially, the deal Sun Life Financial (NYSE: SLF  ) struck in December to sell its U.S. annuity portfolio and some life insurance products for $1.35 billion to Delaware Life Holdings, a Guggenheim Partners-owned company, was scheduled to be completed by Q2 of 2013.