Top Financial Stocks For 2014

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released its best-rated safety picks for 2014 model year cars on Thursday and the big news is that the Camry from Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) is back on the list after getting dropped earlier this year. The IIHS added a “small overlap front crash test” to its testing regimen last year and that has been a stumbling block for a lot of previously highly rated vehicles. The test simulates a left-front collision with a stationary object like a tree or telephone pole.

The 2014 list is divided into two categories: Top Safety Pick+ and Top Safety Pick. Here are the IIHS criteria:

TOP SAFETY PICK requires good performance in the Institute’s moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests and, for the first time, good or acceptable performance in the small overlap front test introduced in 2012. The same level of performance in those tests, along with at least a basic rating for front crash prevention, is required for the higher accolade, TOP SAFETY PICK+.

Top Financial Stocks For 2014: PowerShares WilderHill Clean Energy Portfolio (PBW)

PowerShares WilderHill Clean Energy Portfolio (the Fund) is based on the WilderHill Clean Energy Index and seeks investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield (before the Fund’s fees and expenses) of that equity index. The sectors covered by the Fund include Energy-Alternate Sources, Semiconductors, Electrical Components and Equipment, Chemicals, Electric, Electronics, Computers, Auto Parts and Equipment, Biotechnology and Agriculture. PowerShares Capital Management LLC is the Fund’s investment adviser.

PowerShares WilderHill Clean Energy Portfolio’s top 10 holdings include SunPower Corp., Class A, Echelon Corp., Cypress Semiconductor Corp., Cree, Inc., First Solar, Inc., OM Group, Inc., Universal Display Corp., KYOCERA Corp. ADR (Japan), Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd. ADR (Cayman Islands) and Applied Materials, Inc.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Wall Street Sector Selector]

    Another ETF which invests in the solar sector is the PowerShares WilderHill Clean Energy ETF (PBW). Although its holdings are not limited to the solar sector, its most significant holding is SunPower Corporation at 4.96% of the weight. Its number three holding is MEMC Electronic Materials at 3.42% of the weight. PBW’s average trading volume is robust at over 400,000 shares per day. Its market cap is $135 million.

  • [By Selena Maranjian]

    Exchange-traded funds offer a convenient way to invest in sectors or niches that interest you. If you’d like to add some clean-energy-related stocks to your portfolio, the PowerShares WilderHill Clean Energy Portfolio ETF (NYSEMKT: PBW  ) could save you a lot of trouble. Instead of trying to figure out which companies will perform best, you can use this ETF to invest in lots of them simultaneously.

    The basics
    ETFs often sport lower expense ratios than their mutual fund cousins. The PowerShares ETF’s expense ratio — its annual fee — is 0.70%. The fund is fairly small, too, so if you’re thinking of buying, beware of possibly large spreads between its bid and ask prices. Consider using a limit order if you want to buy in.

Top Financial Stocks For 2014: Gyrodyne Company of America Inc.(GYRO)

Gyrodyne Company of America, Inc., a real estate investment trust (REIT), engages in the investment, acquisition, ownership, and management of a portfolio of medical office and industrial properties in the northeast region of the United States. The company also involves in the development of industrial and residential properties. It focuses on acquiring, developing, owning, leasing, and managing medical, commercial, and industrial real estate. The company has elected to be taxed as REIT under the Internal Revenue Code. As a REIT, it would not be subject to federal income tax purposes, provided that it distributes at least 90% of its taxable income to its shareholders. The company was founded in 1946 and is headquartered in St. James, New York.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Lisa Levin]

    Gyrodyne Co. of America (NASDAQ: GYRO) shares dipped 8.66% to reach a new 52-week low of $10.86. Gyrodyne Co. of America’s trailing-twelve-month ROA is -5.29%.

  • [By Sally Jones]

    Highlight: Gyrodyne Company of America (GYRO)

    The GYRO share price is currently $73.85 or 35.7% off the 52-week high of $114.80. The company does not pay a dividend.

  • [By Geoff Gannon] >Syms (SYMSQ) where at some point the company’s entire value really depended on its balance sheet.

    Obviously when looking at things like real estate you don’t go by what it says on the balance sheet. You try to find a note on depreciation that breaks out land, buildings, etc. And gives information about how the company depreciates its property.

    And – of course – you look at the “Properties” item in the 10-K. In the U.S., you then use the information you’ve gathered to check county land records and things like that for more information about the property.

    Generally, you want to:

    · Find out when the company bought the property

Top Financial Stocks For 2014: Washington Real Estate Investment Trust(WRE)

Washington Real Estate Investment Trust is an equity real estate investment trust (REIT). The company engages in the ownership, operation, and development of real properties. The firm invests in real estate markets of the greater Washington D.C. metro region. It focuses on office, medical office, industrial/flex space, retail, and multifamily real estate investments. Washington Real Estate Investment Trust was founded in 1960 and is based in Rockville, Maryland.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Rich Duprey]

    Commercial and residential income-producing property REIT Washington Real Estate Investment Trust (NYSE: WRE  ) announced yesterday its third-quarter dividend of $0.30 per share, the same rate it’s paid for the past four quarters.

Top Financial Stocks For 2014: HFF Inc (HF)

HFF, Inc. is a provider of commercial real estate and capital markets services to both the users and providers of capital in the United States commercial real estate industry. It is a full-service commercial real estate financial intermediary in the United States. As of December 31, 2011, the Company operated out of 20 offices nationwide. During the year ended December 31, 2011, the Company advised on approximately $35.6 billion of completed commercial real estate transactions. The Company offers debt placement, investment sales, distressed debt and real estate owned advisory services, structured finance, private equity placement, investment banking services, loan sales and commercial loan servicing. In October 2011, the Company sold Las Olas City Centre. In March 2012, the Company sold 801 9th Street, NW, a 236,054 square-foot, Class A office building in Washington, D.C. In July 2013, the Company announced that it has closed the sale of Washington Harbour, a 557,961-squar e-foot, mixed-use project located along the Potomac River in Washington, D.C.’s Georgetown submarket. In September 2013, the Company announced that it has closed the sale of Greenway Plaza, a 4.4 million-square-foot, Class A office complex in Houston, Texas, and 777 Main, a 980,374-square-foot Class A office property in Fort Worth, Texas. In November 2013, HFF Inc closed the sale of The Granary. In November 2013, the Company’s subsidiary, Holliday Fenoglio Fowler, L.P. sold Avalon on the Sound East, a 588-unit, 39-story, Class A multi-housing tower in New Rochelle, New York. In December 2013, HFF Inc sold its Pacific Commons Shopping Center, an 865,783-square-foot center in Fremont. In January 2014, HFF Inc has closed the sale of 225 West Santa Clara, a 16-story, 349,318-square-foot, transit-oriented trophy office property in downtown San Jose, California. In January 2014, HFF, Inc. sold two Central Florida Publix-anchored retail properties in Orlando and suburban Tampa, a nd sold eight-property, fully leased industrial portfolio in! the Meadowlands submarket of New Jersey. In January 2014, HFF Inc closed the sale of 800 Madison, a 217-unit, Class A multi-housing community with ground floor retail in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Debt Placement Services

The Company offers its clients a range of debt instruments, including but not limited to, construction and construction/mini-permanent loans, adjustable and fixed rate mortgages, entity level debt, mezzanine debt, forward delivery loans, tax exempt financing and sale/leaseback financing. Its clients are owners of various types of property, including, but not limited to, office, retail, industrial, hotel, multi-housing, self-storage, assisted living, nursing homes, condominiums and condominium conversions, mixed-use properties and land. The Company’s clients range in size from individual entrepreneurs who own a single property to the large real estate funds and institutional property owners worldwide who invest globally, especially in t he United States. Debt is or has been placed with capital funding sources, both domestic and foreign, including, but not limited to, life insurance companies, conduits, investment banks, commercial banks, thrifts, agency lenders, pension funds, pension fund advisors, real estate investment trusts (REITs), credit companies, opportunity funds and individual investors. In 2011, its transaction volume in debt placements was approximately $18.7 billion.

Investment Sales Services

The Company provides investment sales services to commercial real estate owners who are seeking to sell one or more properties or property interests. In 2011, it completed investment sales of approximately $12.6 billion.

Structured Finance and Private Equity Services

The Company offers an array of structured finance and private equity alternatives and solutions at both the property and ownership entity level. In 2011, it completed approximately $2 billio n of structured finance and advisory services transactions.

Private Equity, Investment Banking and Advisory Services

The Company’s broker-dealer subsidiary, HFF Securities L.P. (HFF Securities), undertakes both discretionary and non-discretionary private equity raises, select property specific joint ventures and select investment banking activities for its clients. At December 31, 2011, it had $1.9 billion of active private equity discretionary fund transactions. Through HFF Securities, it offers its clients the ability to access the private equity markets for an identified commercial real estate asset and discretionary private equity funds, joint ventures, entity-level private placements and advisory services, as well as structured finance services. HFF Securities’ services to its clients include joint ventures, private placements, advisory services, and marketing and fund-raising.

Loan Sales

The Company assists its clients to sell all or portions of their commercial real estate debt n ote portfolios, which can include performing, non-performing and distressed debt and/or real estate owned properties. It had consummated $2.3 billion in loan sales transactions in 2011.

Commercial Loan Servicing

The Company provides commercial loan servicing (primary and sub-servicing) for life insurance companies, Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac), Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) through relationships with a range of delegated underwriting and servicing (DUS) lenders, commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) originators, mortgage REITS and debt funds, groups that purchase performing and/or non-performing loans, as well as owners who sell commercial real estate subject to a purchase money mortgage. During 2011, it had approximately 35 correspondent lender relationships with life insurers.

The Company competes with CBRE Capital Markets, Cushman & Wakefield, Eastdil Secured, Jones Lang LaSalle, N orthmarq Capital and Berkadia.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Hilary Kramer]

     

    2. Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) The REIT is another alternative vehicle that's gone mainstream in recent years. Hundreds of broad-based and specialized real estate companies and ETFs are available, and after a correction a few months ago, many are on the cheap side. Like any other alternative, this should be a seasoning for your portfolio and not the sauce itself. For most retail investors, a stake in an indexed fund like the SPDR Dow Jones REIT (NYSE: RWR) should be more than adequate, or look into the companies that provide services to the REIT industry like HFF (NYSE: HF) and Jones Lang LaSalle (NYSE: JLL).

     

Top Financial Stocks For 2014: Fifth Third Bancorp(FITB)

Fifth Third Bancorp operates as a diversified financial services holding company in the United States. The company?s Commercial Banking segment offers credit intermediation, cash management, and financial services; lending and depository products; and foreign exchange and international trade finance, derivatives and capital markets services, asset-based lending, real estate finance, public finance, commercial leasing, and syndicated finance for business, government, and professional customers. Its Branch Banking segment provides deposit and loan, and lease products to individuals and small businesses. This segment?s products include checking and savings accounts, home equity loans and lines of credit, credit cards, loans for automobile and personal financing needs, and cash management services. The company?s Consumer Lending segment engages in the mortgage and home equity lending activities, such as origination, retention, and servicing of mortgage and home equity loans ; and other indirect lending activities, which include loans to consumers through mortgage brokers and automobile dealers. Its Investment Advisors segment offers investment alternatives for individuals, companies, and not-for-profit organizations. It offers retail brokerage services to individual clients, and broker dealer services to the institutional marketplace. This segment also provides asset management services; holistic strategies to affluent clients in wealth planning, investing, insurance, and wealth protection; and advisory services for institutional clients, as well as advises the company?s proprietary family of mutual funds. As of December 31, 2011, the company operated 1,316 full-service banking centers, including 104 Bank Mart locations; and 2,425 automated teller machines in 12 states in the midwestern and southeastern regions of the United States. The company was founded in 1862 and is headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Shauna O’Brien]

    Regional bank Fifth Third Bancorp (FITB) reported a dip in its fourth quarter earnings on Thursday. Despite the fall in earnings, EPS remained unchanged and came in above analyst estimates.

    FITB’s Earnings in Brief

    The company reported Q4 earnings of $402 million, down from $421 million a year ago. FITB’s  adjusted net income dipped to $383 million from $390 million a year ago. On a per share basis, earnings remained unchanged at 43 cents per share. Analysts expected to see earnings of 42 cents per share. For FY2013, earnings rose 17% to $1.8 billion, or $2.02 per share, up from $1.5 billion, or $1.66 per share, in 2012.

    CEO Commentary

    Kevin T. Kabat, Vice Chairman and CEO of FITB commented: “Fifth Third reported full year net income available to common shareholders of $1.8 billion in 2013, which marks the best result in our Company’s history and represents 17 percent growth from strong 2012 earnings. Return on average assets of 1.48 percent increased 11 percent over last year, and return on average tangible common equity of 16.0 percent was up 12 percent over last year.

    FITB’s Dividend

    FITB will pay a 12 cent dividend on Thursday. The company is expected to declare its next dividend of 12 cents in March. In June, FITB raised its dividend 9% from 11 cents to 12 cents per share.

    Stock Performance 

    Fifth Third Bancorp shares were mostly flat during pre-market trading Thursday.

  • [By Doug Hughes]

    With their book value at over $26.00 a share and management always buying stock themselves, they will want to do the right thing for shareholders one day soon. Management also owns over 12% of the shares outstanding. Since they have decent growth, a big player like Fifth Third Bancorp (FITB) will buy them one day.

  • [By Reuters]

    Steven Senne/AP BOSTON — Companies that help Target process payments could face millions of dollars in fines and costs resulting from the unprecedented data breach that struck the retailer during the holiday shopping season. Investigators are still sorting through just how thieves compromised about 40 million payment cards and the information of about 70 million Target (TGT) customers. But people who have reviewed past data breaches believe Target’s partners could face consumer lawsuits and fines that payment networks such as Visa (V) and MasterCard (MA) often levy after cybersecurity incidents. Target’s partners “have deep pockets and are intimately involved in certain aspects of how Target gets paid,” said Jamie Pole, a cybersecurity consultant in Asheboro, N.C., who works for government agencies and the financial industry. Fines and settlement costs could reach into the millions of dollars for individual companies, he said, though much will depend on how the ultimate liability for the breach is determined. Boston attorney Cynthia Larose of Mintz Levin said Target would likely seek to add its partners as defendants to lawsuits already filed over the breach. “These class-action lawsuits start to bring everyone in at some point,” she said. After its systems were penetrated by hackers in the mid-2000s, retailer TJX Cos. (TJX) agreed to pay up to $40.9 million to cover fraud costs in a settlement with Visa. Visa also issued penalties of $880,000 against Fifth Third Bancorp (FITB) of Ohio, which processed transactions for TJX. Asked about the business relationships and possible costs, Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation and pending suits. A Visa spokeswoman declined to comment. A MasterCard spokesman said the company couldn’t discuss an ongoing investigation. Handling Target Transactions Several companies are involved in any purchase from a store such as Target. A bank issues the consumer’s payment card

Top Financial Stocks For 2014: Washington Banking Company(WBCO)

Washington Banking Company operates as the bank holding company for Whidbey Island Bank that provides community commercial banking services in northwestern Washington. Its deposit products include interest-bearing demand and money market accounts, saving deposits, time deposits, NOW accounts, and noninterest-bearing demand deposits. The company?s portfolio of loans comprises secured and unsecured commercial loans for working capital and expansion; real estate mortgage loans, including one-to-four family residential and commercial real estate loans; and real estate construction loans, such as commercial real estate, one-to-four family residential construction, and speculative construction loans. Its consumer loan portfolio include automobile loans, boat and recreational vehicle financing, home equity and home improvement loans, and other secured and unsecured personal loans, as well as SBA guaranteed loans for small and medium sized businesses. In addition, the company pro vides non-deposit managed investment products and services, and sweep investment options. As of December 31, 2010, it operated 30 branches in 6 counties located in northwestern Washington. The company was founded in 1996 and is based in Oak Harbor, Washington.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Eric Volkman]

    Washington Banking (NASDAQ: WBCO  ) is diverting some of its capital to repurchase its own stock. The company announced that its board has authorized a buyback program for up to 775,000 shares. The program is expected to continue through the end of 2014, although the firm stressed that it “is under no obligation to repurchase a specific number or dollar amount of shares and the repurchase program may be discontinued at any time.”

Top Financial Stocks For 2014: Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. (AJG)

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

Brokerage Segment

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

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

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

Risk Management Segment

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

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

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Marc Bastow]

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

  • [By Ben Levisohn]

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

Top Financial Stocks For 2014: Powershares DB Us Dollar Index Bearish Fund (UDN)

PowerShares DB US Dollar Index Bearish Fund (the Fund) is a separate series of PowerShares DB US Dollar Index Trust (the Trust). The Fund’s subsidiary is DB US Dollar Index Bearish Master Fund (the Master Fund), which is a separate series of DB US Dollar Index Bearish Master Trust (the Master Trust). The Fund offers common units of beneficial interest (the Shares) only to certain eligible financial institutions (the Authorized Participants) in one or more blocks of 200,000 Shares, called a Basket. The proceeds from the offering of Shares are invested in the Master Fund.

The Master Fund invests in futures contracts (the DX Contracts) with a view to tracking the changes, whether positive or negative, in the level of the Deutsche Bank US Dollar Index (USDX) Futures Index – Excess Return (Short Index) (referred to as the Short Index or the Index) over time. The Fund earns interest income from the United States Treasury obligations and other high credit quality s hort-term, fixed-income securities. The Index is calculated to reflect the changes in market value over time, whether positive or negative, of short positions in DX Contracts. DX Contracts are traded through the currency markets of ICE Futures U.S. under the symbol DX. The changes in market value over time, whether positive or negative, of the DX Contracts are related to the changes, whether positive or negative, in the level of the U.S. Dollar Index (the USDX). The Index provides a general indication of the international value of the United States dollar relative to the six major world currencies (the Index Currencies), which comprise the USDX, including Euro, Japanese Yen, British Pound, Canadian Dollar, Swedish Krona and Swiss Franc.

The Fund, through its Master Fund, establishes short positions in DX Contracts with a view to tracking the changes, whether positive or negative, in the level of the Index. The performance of the Fund also is intended to reflect the excess, if any, of its Master Fund’s interest income f! rom its holdings of the United States Treasury obligations and other high credit quality short-term, fixed-income securities over the expenses of the Fund and the Master Fund. DB Commodity Services LLC serves as the managing owner, commodity pool operator and commodity trading advisor of the Fund and the Master Fund. DB Commodity Services LLC is an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Deutsche Bank AG. The Bank of New York Mellon serves as the administrator of the Fund and the Master Fund.v

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Brian O’Connell]

    To make a contrarian play, the PowerShares DB US Dollar Index Bearish (UDN) works the opposite way: When the dollar declines, the fund fares better.

Top Financial Stocks 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 Adam J. Wiederman]

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

  • [By Rich Duprey]

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

  • [By Jon C. Ogg]

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

    Finish Line Inc. (NASDAQ: FINL) was raised to Buy from Neutral at Janney Capital Markets.

Top Financial Stocks For 2014: Mediobanca Banca di Credito Finanziario SpA (MB)

Mediobanca Banca di Credito Finanziario SpA is an Italy-based bank. Together with its subsidiaries, the Company’s activities are divided into three main segments: Corporate and Investment Banking (CIB), Principal Investing (PI) and Retail and Private Banking (RPB). In the CIB segment, the Bank is engaged in the investment banking activities, leasing services and trading investments. The PI segment comprises the Bank’s shareholdings in companies involved in the insurance sector, multimedia publishing activities and telecommunication services, as well as stakes acquired as part of merchant banking activity and investments in private equity funds. The RPB consists of financial products and services provided to retail customers, including consumer credit products, mortgages, deposit accounts, private banking and fiduciary activities. In September 2013, the Company launched the sale of its investment in Telco. Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Bloomberg]

    Mattel (MAT), the world’s largest toymaker, agreed to buy Mega Brands (MB) for $460 million, acquiring the biggest challenger to Lego A/S in the construction-toy market. Mattel is offering C$17.75 ($16) a share, according to a statement today, a 36 percent premium over yesterday’s closing price. The board of Montreal-based Mega Brands unanimously approved the transaction, and investors holding 39 percent of the stock, including Chief Executive Officer Marc Bertrand and Fairfax Financial Holdings (FFH), agreed to the deal. The purchase of Mega Brands, the world’s second-largest maker of snap-together blocks, will fill a product hole for Mattel. It doesn’t have its own construction line, locking it out of a $4 billion market in the U.S. and Europe. The category also is a bright spot in a toy industry that has seen growth stall in the U.S. Mattel considered starting its own construction line, then opted instead to buy Mega Brands because it would be faster and less risky, Mattel CEO Bryan G. Stockton said on a call with reporters. Mattel got its first taste of construction in 2012 when it debuted blocks for its Barbie brand through a licensing deal with Mega Brands. Mattel realized that replicating this kind of expertise would take years, Stockton said. ‘About Growth’ “This acquisition is all about growth,” Stockton said. “We see an opportunity to expand our brands in this category across boys, girls and preschool.” Mattel shares rose 0.8 percent to $37.44 at 10:34 a.m. in New York. They had declined 9 percent over the past year through yesterday. Shares of Montreal-based Mega Brands surged 36 percent to C$17.73 today in Toronto. Mattel is coming off a lackluster holiday season, with sales sinking 6.3 percent — the biggest quarterly drop since 2009. The El Segundo, California-based toymaker has looked to acquisitions to boost sales in the past. In February of 2012, it paid $680 million to buy HIT Entertainment, owner of Thomas the Tank Engine. It also acq