Top Insurance Stocks To Watch For 2014

The winds of change are blowing within the patent-enforcement world. If you don’t believe it, just ask Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG), Akamai Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ:AKAM), and Soverain Software LLC. All three companies recently found themselves on the losing end of a court decision – the appeals court, to be specific – that likely could have come out very differently were we in the patent-enforcement environment from just a couple of years ago. Things are a bit tougher for patent owners now. That change, however, may be a very good thing for patent-protection company Endeavor IP Inc. (OTCBB:ENIP) and ENIP shareholders.

For Google, the shift in the way the justice system looks at and handles patent infringement claims meant its subsidiary, Motorola Mobility, unsuccessfully bid to convince U.S. courts that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) was illegally using Google’s/Motorola’s approach for sending data to a mobile device. For Akamai Technologies, it means that the technology company will need to re-explain – and ultimately re-prove – to an appellate court that Limelight Networks, Inc. (NASDAQ:LLNW) infringed on an Akamai patent even though a lower court had already ruled in favor of AKAM. And for Soverain Software, the legal system’s new attitude meant it wouldn’t even bother hearing its appeal for a case it lost against Newegg last year… a case it’s tried against several companies, losing every time.

Top Insurance Stocks To Watch For 2014: ACE Ltd (ACE)

ACE Ltd (ACE) is a holding company of the ACE Group of Companies. ACE is a global insurance and reinsurance organization, serving the needs of customers in more than 170 countries. It offers commercial insurance products and service offerings, such as risk management programs, loss control and engineering and complex claims management. It also provides specialized insurance products ranging from Directors & Officers (D&O) and professional liability to various specialty-casualty and umbrella and excess casualty lines to niche areas, such as aviation and energy. In addition, it supplies personal accident, supplemental health, and life insurance to individuals in select countries. ACE operates in four business segments: Insurance-North American, Insurance-Overseas General, Global Reinsurance, and Life. In December 2011, it acquired Rio Guayas Compania de Seguros y Reaseguros, a general insurance company in Ecuador. On November 30, 2011, it acquired Penn Millers Holding Corpor ation (PMHC). On April 1, 2011, it acquired the operations of New York Life’s Hong Kong. On February 1, 2011, ACE acquired New York Life’s Korea operations. In September 2012, it acquired 80% of PT Asuransi Jaya Proteksi in Indonesia.

Insurance-North American

ACE’s Insurance-North American segment consists of the operations in the United States, Canada, and Bermuda. This segment includes the operations of ACE USA (including ACE Canada), ACE Bermuda, ACE Commercial Risk Services, ACE Private Risk Services, ACE Westchester, ACE Agriculture, and various run-off operations. During the year ended December 31, 2011, Insurance-North American segment accounted for 45% of its consolidated net premiums earned. During 2011, ACE USA represented approximately 49% of Insurance-North American’s net premiums earned.

ACE USA is the North American retail operating division which provides a broad array of P&C, A&H, and risk management products and services to a diverse group of commercial and non-commercia! l enterprises and consumers. ACE Bermuda provides commercial insurance products on an excess basis mainly to a global client base, covering exposures that are generally low in frequency and high in severity. ACE Commercial Risk Services addresses the insurance needs of small to mid-sized businesses in North America by delivering an array of specialty product solutions for targeted industries. ACE Private Risk Services provides personal lines coverages for high net worth individuals and families in North America.

ACE Westchester specializes in the North American wholesale distribution of excess and surplus P&C, environmental, professional and inland marine products. ACE Agriculture provides Multi-Peril Crop Insurance and crop/hail insurance protection to customers throughout the United States and Canada through Rain and Hail and Agribusiness insurance through Penn Millers Insurance Company. The run-off operations include Brandywine, Commercial Insurance Services , residual market workers’ compensation business, pools and syndicates not attributable to a single business group, and other exited lines of business. Run-off operations do not actively sell insurance products, but are responsible for the management of existing policies and settlement of related claims.

Insurance-Overseas General

During 2011, ACE’s Insurance- Overseas General segment accounted for 37% of its consolidated net premiums earned. Insurance-Overseas General segment consists of ACE International, its global retail insurance operations, the wholesale insurance business of ACE Global Markets, and the international A&H and life business of Combined Insurance. ACE International is its retail business serving local companies and insureds to large multinationals outside the United States, Bermuda, and Canada. ACE Global Markets, its London-based excess and surplus lines business, includes Lloyd’s of London (Lloyd’s) Syndicate 2488 (Synd icate 2488). ACE provides a fund at Lloyd’s to support und! erwriting! by Syndicate 2488, which is managed by ACE Underwriting Agencies Limited. The reinsurance operation of ACE Global Markets is included in the Global Reinsurance segment.

Property insurance products include traditional commercial fire coverage, as well as energy industry-related, construction, and other technical coverages. Principal casualty products are commercial primary and excess casualty, environmental, marine and general liability. ACE International specialty coverages include D&O professional indemnity, energy, aviation, political risk and specialty personal lines products. The A&H operations primarily offer personal accident and supplemental medical products to meet the insurance needs of individuals and groups outside of United States insurance markets. ACE International’s personal lines operations provide specialty products and services designed to meet the needs of specific target markets and include property damage, auto, homeowners, and personal l iability.

Global Reinsurance

During 2011, ACE’s Global Reinsurance segment, which accounted for 7% of its consolidated net premiums earned. Global Reinsurance segment represents ACE’s reinsurance operations comprising ACE Tempest Re Bermuda, ACE Tempest Re USA, ACE Tempest Re International, and ACE Tempest Re Canada. The Global Reinsurance segment also includes ACE Global Markets’ reinsurance operations. Global Reinsurance markets its reinsurance products worldwide under the ACE Tempest Re brand name and provides a range of coverage to a diverse array of primary P&C companies. ACE Tempest Re Bermuda principally provides property catastrophe reinsurance, on an excess of loss basis globally to insurers of commercial and personal property. ACE Tempest Re Bermuda underwrites reinsurance principally on an excess of loss basis, meaning that its exposure only arises after the ceding company’s accumulated losses have exceeded the attachment point of the reinsurance policy. ACE Tempest Re Bermuda also writes ! other typ! es of reinsurance on a limited basis for selected clients.

ACE Tempest Re USA writes all lines of traditional and specialty P&C reinsurance for the United States market, principally on a treaty basis, with a focus on writing property per risk and casualty reinsurance. ACE Tempest Re USA underwrites reinsurance on both a proportional and excess of loss basis. ACE Tempest Re International provides P&C treaty reinsurance to insurance companies worldwide. ACE Tempest Re Canada offers an array of traditional and specialty P&C reinsurance to the Canadian market, including casualty, property risk and property catastrophe.

Life

During 2011, ACE’s Life accounted for 11% of 2011 consolidated net premiums earned. Life includes ACE’s international life operations (ACE Life), ACE Tempest Life Re (ACE Life Re), and the North American supplemental A&H and life business of Combined Insurance. ACE Life provides individual life and group insurance, i ncluding Egypt, Indonesia, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, the United Arab Emirates, throughout Latin America, selectively in Europe, as well as China through a non-consolidated joint venture insurance company.

ACE Life offers a portfolio of protection and savings products, including whole life, endowment plans, individual term life, group term life, group medical, personal accident, universal life, and unit linked contracts. ACE Life sells to consumers through a range of distribution channels, including agency, bancassurance, brokers, and direct to consumer marketing. ACE Life Re helps clients (ceding companies) manage mortality, morbidity, and lapse risks embedded in their books of business. ACE Life Re’s business is a Bermuda-based operation, which provides reinsurance to primary life insurers, focusing on guarantees included in certain fixed and variable annuity products and also on more traditional mortality reinsurance protection. ACE Life Re is a United Sta tes-based traditional life reinsurance operation. Combined I! nsurance ! distributes specialty individual accident and supplemental health and life insurance products targeted to middle income consumers in the United States and Canada.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Dividends4Life]

    This week a few companies answered the call and rewarded their shareholders with higher cash dividends:

    Consolidated Edison Inc. (ED) engages in regulated electric, gas, and steam delivery businesses. January 16th the company increased its quarterly dividend 2.4% to $0.63 per share. The dividend is payable March 15, 2014, to stockholders of record on February 12, 2014. The yield based on the new payout is 4.7%.

    Cousins Properties Incorporated (CUZ), a real estate investment trust (REIT), owns, develops, and manages real estate portfolio, as well as performs certain real estate-related services. January 16th the company increased its quarterly dividend 66.7% to $0.075 per share. The dividend is payable February 24, 2014, to stockholders of record on February 10, 2014. The yield based on the new payout is 2.8%.

    Wisconsin Energy Corporation (WEC) generates and distributes electric energy, as well as distributes natural gas. The company operates in two segments, Utility Energy and Non-Utility Energy. January 16th the company increased its quarterly dividend 2% to $0.3900 per share. The dividend is payable March 1, 2014, to stockholders of record on February 14, 2014. The yield based on the new payout is 3.8%.

    BlackRock Inc. (BLK) is a publicly owned investment manager. The firm primarily provides its services to institutional, intermediary, and individual investors. January 16th the company increased its quarterly dividend 14.9% to $1.93 per share. The dividend is payable March 24, 2014, to stockholders of record on March 7, 2014. The yield based on the new payout is 2.4%.

    ONEOK Inc. (OKE) operates as a diversified energy company in the United States. January 15th the company increased its quarterly dividend 5.3% to $0.40 per share. The dividend is payable February 18, 2014, to stockholders of record on February 10, 2014. The yield based on the new payout is 2.5%.

    Omega Healthcare Investors Inc. (OHI) is a real es

  • [By Ben Levisohn]

    JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and American Express (AXP) rose 2% and 2.1%, respectively, as financial stocks gained on speculation that the jobless claims data would spur the Federal Reserve to taper sooner rather than later, while Ace Ltd. (ACE) rose 3.8%.  General Motors (GM) gained 1.1% after the US government said it could sell the last of its shares by year-end. On the downside, Target (TGT) fell 3.5% after reporting earnings that missed analyst expectations.

Top Insurance Stocks To Watch For 2014: Tryg A/S (TRYG)

Tryg A/S, formerly TrygVesta A/S, is a Denmark-based insurance company. It is the parent company within the Tryg Group, which supplies insurance services in the Nordic countries. The Company is organized in four business areas, namely Private, Commercial, Industry and Sweden. Private sells insurance products to private individuals in Denmark and Norway. Commercial sells insurance products to small and medium-sized companies in Denmark and Norway. Industry sells insurance products to industrial customers under the Tryg brand in Denmark and Norway and the Moderna brand in Sweden. Sweden sells insurance products to private individuals in Sweden under the Moderna brand name. As of December 31, 2012, the Company had one wholly owned subsidiary, Tryg Forsikring A/S. On May 1, 2013, it sold its Finnish branch. Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Sofia Horta e Costa]

    Commodity producers slid as the release fueled concern about the slowdown in the world’s second-biggest economy. Burberry Group Plc (BRBY) gained 4.8 percent after the company’s spring-summer collection helped increase retail sales in its fiscal first quarter by more than analysts had estimated. Tryg A/S (TRYG) added 3.3 percent after posting better-than-forecast pretax profit as cost cuts offset increased weather-related claims.

Top Insurance Stocks To Watch For 2014: Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRK.B)

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

Insurance and Reinsurance Businesses

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

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

Property/Casualty Reinsurance

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

Life/Health Reinsurance

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

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

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

Railroad Business

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

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

Utilities and Energy Businesses

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

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

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

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

Manufacturing, Service and Retailing Businesses

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

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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 Jonathan Berr]

    Multilevel marketing (MLM) groups such as Herbalife operate through independent sales representatives, who earn money both through the sales of product and by recruiting other people to join their team. This business model — which is used by scores of companies, including Pampered Chef, which is owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B), Tupperware (TUP) and Mary Kay Cosmetics — is legal provided that actual products are sold.

  • [By MONEYMORNING]

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

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

Top Insurance Stocks To Watch For 2014: National Health Partners Inc (NHPR)

National Health Partners, Inc., incorporated on March 10, 1989, is a national healthcare membership organization that was formed to address the need for affordable healthcare nationwide. The Company creates, markets and sells membership programs targeted toward underserved markets in the healthcare industry through a national healthcare savings network called CARExpress. CARExpress is a network of over 1,000,000 participating hospitals, doctors, dentists, pharmacists and other healthcare providers that have agreed to render their services and products to the Company’s members at discounted prices. CARExpress enables the Company’s members to engage in point-of-service transactions directly with participating healthcare providers and pay discounted prices.

The Company has designed membership programs that range from its traditional health discount programs that provide access to networks of providers that have agreed to provide its members with a reduced rate fo r services, to membership programs that include limited liability insurance benefits. The Company offers two families of CARExpress membership programs to its members, its CARExpress health discount programs, and its CARExpress Plus membership programs.

The Company’s CARExpress health discount programs consists of healthcare, including physicians, hospitals, ancillary services, dentists, prescription drugs, vision care, hearing aids, chiropractic services, alternative care, 24-hour nurseline, medical supplies and equipment, and long-term care facilities, which include skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, respite care and home health care. The Company provides its members with access to over 1,000,000 healthcare providers through its agreements with CareMark, Aetna, Optum, Outlook Vision, Integrated Health, Three Rivers, International Med-Care and HealthFi International.

The Company’s CARExpress Plus programs are membership program s consists of the Company’s CARExpress health discount progr! ams and limited liability insurance benefits underwritten by United States.The limited liability insurance benefits included in these programs are accidental death and dismemberment coverage (AD&D), accident medical expense coverage (AME), accident disability coverage, a daily hospital and intensive care unit (ICU) benefit, doctor visit benefits, inpatient/outpatient surgical visit benefits, as well as emergency room and ambulance benefits. With CARExpress Plus, the Company’s health discount programs provide its members with a point of service discount on their healthcare expenses at the time of service. The Company offers three standard CARExpress Plus programs, which include CARExpress Plus Platinum Program, CARExpress Plus Gold Program and CARExpress Plus Silver Program.

The Company competes with Alliance HealthCard, Inc., AmeriPlan, Best Benefits, Careington International, Family Care, Full Access Medical, International Association of Businesses, New Benefit s, Inc. and People’s Benefit Services.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Peter Graham]

    Last Friday, small cap stocks National Health Partners, Inc (OTCMKTS: NHPR) surged 816.7% while Timios National Corp (OTCMKTS: HOMS) and Medical Care Technologies Inc (OTCMKTS: MDCE) sank 32.28% and 25%, respectively. So what will these three small caps do for investors and traders this week? Here is a closer look to help you decide on a trading strategy:

    National Health Partners, Inc (OTCMKTS: NHPR) Surged 816.7% On Friday

    Small cap National Health Partners is a national healthcare savings organization that provides discount healthcare membership programs to uninsured and underinsured people through a national healthcare savings network called “CARExpress.” On Friday, National Health Partners surged 816.7% to $0.044 for a market cap of $107,933 plus NHPR is down 78% over the past year and up 923.3% since June 2012 according to Google Finance.

Top Insurance Stocks To Watch For 2014: Principal Financial Group Inc(PFG)

Principal Financial Group, Inc. provides retirement savings, investment, and insurance products and services worldwide. The company?s Retirement and Investor Services segment provides retirement savings and related investment products and services, including a portfolio of asset accumulation products and services primarily to small and medium-sized businesses and individuals in the United States. This segment offers products and services to businesses for defined contribution pension plans, including 401(k) and 403(b) plans, defined benefit pension plans, nonqualified executive benefit plans, and employee stock ownership plan consulting services; and annuities, mutual funds, and bank products and services to the employees of its business customers and other individuals. Principal Financial Group?s Principal Global Investors segment offers a range of equity, fixed income, and real estate investments, as well as specialized overlay and advisory services to institutional inve stors. The company?s Principal International segment offers retirement products and services, annuities, mutual funds, institutional asset management, and life insurance accumulation products in Brazil, Chile, China, Hong Kong SAR, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, and Thailand. Principal Financial Group?s U.S. Insurance Solutions segment offers individual life insurance, as well as specialty benefits in the United States. Its individual life insurance products include universal and variable universal life insurance and traditional life insurance; and specialty benefit products comprise group dental and vision insurance, individual and group disability insurance, and group life insurance, as well as fee-for-service claims administration and wellness services. The company was founded in 1879 and is based in Des Moines, Iowa.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Michael Calia]

    Principal Financial Group Inc.(PFG) said its fourth-quarter earnings rose 8.6%, touting its strong results for the period amid continued economic concern.

Top Insurance Stocks To Watch For 2014: Reinsurance Group of America Inc (RGA)

Reinsurance Group of America, Incorporated (RGA) is an insurance holding company. RGA is engaged in the reinsurance of individual and group coverages for traditional life and health, longevity, disability income, annuity and critical illness products, and financial reinsurance. During the year ended December 31, 2011, approximately 65.8% of the Company’s net premiums were from its operations in North America, represented by its United States and Canada segments. Its subsidiaries include RGA Reinsurance Company (RGA Reinsurance), Reinsurance Company of Missouri, Incorporated (RCM), RGA Reinsurance Company (Barbados) Ltd. (RGA Barbados), RGA Americas Reinsurance Company, Ltd. (RGA Americas), RGA Atlantic Reinsurance Company, Ltd. (RGA Atlantic), RGA Life Reinsurance Company of Canada (RGA Canada), RGA Reinsurance Company of Australia, Limited (RGA Australia) and RGA International Reinsurance Company (RGA International). The Company has five geographic-based operational seg ments: United States, Canada, Europe & South Africa, Asia Pacific and Corporate and Other. On January 1, 2012, it dissolved its United Kingdom reinsurance subsidiary and transferred its business to RGA International, the Company’s Ireland-based subsidiary, to better manage capital resources.

As of December 31, 2011, the Company has operation in Australia, Barbados, Bermuda, People’s Republic of China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. The Company provides reinsurance products to the life insurance companies worldwide. The Company obtains its revenues through reinsurance agreements, which cover a portfolio of life and health insurance products, including term life, credit life, universal life, whole life, group life and health, joint and last survivor insurance, critical illness, disability income, as well as annuities and financial reinsurance.

!

United States Operations

During 2011, the United States operations represented 54.4% of the Company’s net premiums. The United States operations market traditional life and health reinsurance, reinsurance of asset-intensive products, and financial reinsurance, primarily to the United States life insurance companies. The United States Traditional sub-segment provides life and health reinsurance to domestic clients for a range of products through yearly renewable term agreements, coinsurance, and modified coinsurance. Premiums vary for smokers and non-smokers, males and females, and may include a preferred underwriting class discount. Reinsurance premiums are paid in accordance with the treaty. Automatic reinsurance treaty provides that the ceding company will cede risks to a reinsurer on specified blocks of policies where the underlying policies meet the ceding company’s underwriting criteria. The United States facultative reinsurance operation invo lves the assessment of the risks inherent in multiple impairments, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes; cases involving policy face amounts, and financial risk cases, which include cases involving policies disproportionately in relation to the financial characteristics of the proposed insured. During 2011, approximately 20.4% of the United States gross premiums were written on a facultative basis.

Canada Operations

During 2011, the Canada operations represented 11.4% of the Company’s net premiums. During 2011, approximately 85.2% of the recurring new business was written on an automatic basis. The Company operates in Canada through RGA Canada, a wholly owned subsidiary. RGA Canada is a life reinsurer in Canada, based on new individual life insurance production. It assists clients with capital management and mortality and morbidity risk management and is primarily engaged in traditional individual life reinsurance, as well as c reditor, group life and health, critical illness, and longev! ity reins! urance. Creditor insurance covers the outstanding balance on personal, mortgage or commercial loans in the event of death, disability or critical illness and is shorter in duration than traditional life insurance. Clients include the life insurers in Canada.

Europe & South Africa Operations

During 2011, the Europe & South Africa operations represented 16.3% of the Company’s net premiums. This segment serves clients from subsidiaries, licensed branch offices and/or representative offices located in France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, South Africa, Spain, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. These offices operate primarily through the Company’s subsidiaries RGA International and RGA South Africa. The principal types of reinsurance for this segment include life and health products through yearly renewable term and coinsurance agreements, the reinsurance of critical illness coverage, which provides a benefit in the event of the diagnosis of a pre-defined critical illness and the reinsurance of longevity risk related to payout annuities. The reinsurance agreements of critical illness coverage may be either facultative or automatic agreements. Premiums earned from critical illness coverage represented 20.5% of the total net premiums for this segment during 2011. During 2011, the United Kingdom operations generated approximately 62.9% of the segment’s gross premiums.

Asia Pacific Operations

During 2011, the Asia Pacific operations represented 17.8% of the Company’s net premiums. The Company has a presence in the Asia Pacific region with licensed branch offices and/or representative offices in Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, New Zealand, Labuan (Malaysia) and the People’s Republic of China. The principal types of reinsurance for this segment include life, critical illness, health, disability income, superannuation, and financial reinsur ance. Superannuation is the Australian government mandated c! ompulsory! retirement savings program. Superannuation funds accumulate retirement funds for employees, and in addition, offer life and disability insurance coverage. Reinsurance agreements may be either facultative or automatic agreements covering primarily individual risks and, in some markets, group risks. During 2011, the Australian operations generated approximately 52.3% of the total gross premiums for the Asia Pacific operations. The Hong Kong, Labuan, Japan, Taiwan, China and South Korea offices provide full reinsurance services and are supported by the Company’s United States and International Division Sydney office.

Corporate and Other

Corporate and Other operations include investment income from invested assets not allocated to support segment operations and undeployed proceeds from the Company’s capital raising efforts, in addition to unallocated investment related gains or losses. Corporate expenses consist of the offset to capital charges al located to the operating segments within the policy acquisition costs and other insurance expenses line item, unallocated overhead and executive costs, and interest expense related to debt. In additionally, Corporate and Other includes results from, among others, RGA Technology Partners, Inc. (RTP), a wholly owned subsidiary that develops and markets technology solutions for the insurance industry and the investment income and expense associated with the Company’s collateral finance facilities.

The Company competes with Munich Re, Swiss Re, Hannover Re, SCOR Global Re, Berkshire Hathaway and Generali.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Selena Maranjian]

    The biggest new holdings are Philip Morris International and Reinsurance Group of America (NYSE: RGA  ) . Other new holdings of interest include Radian Group (NYSE: RDN  ) . To say that mortgage insurer Radian had a good past year would be an understatement, as the stock more than tripled. That’s partly due to expectations of a boom in business as the housing market picks up, with tighter lending rules probably leading to greater need for the coverage. The stock recently got an upgrade, with an analyst expecting a possibly bumpy 2013 because of a high level of delinquent loans, but much smoother sailing in following years.

  • [By Brian Pacampara]

    Based on the aggregated intelligence of 180,000-plus investors participating in Motley Fool CAPS, the Fool’s free investing community, life and health reinsurer Reinsurance Group of America (NYSE: RGA  ) has earned a coveted five-star ranking.

Top Insurance Stocks To Watch For 2014: Aflac Incorporated(AFL)

Aflac Incorporated, through its subsidiary, American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus (Aflac), provides supplemental health and life insurance. The company offers various voluntary supplemental insurance products, including cancer plans, general medical indemnity plans, medical/sickness riders, care plans, living benefit life plans, ordinary life insurance plans, and annuities in Japan. It also provides loss-of-income products, such as life and short-term disability plans; and products designed to protect individuals from depletion of assets, which comprise hospital indemnity, fixed-benefit dental, vision care, accident, cancer, critical illness/critical care, and hospital intensive care plans in the United States. The company sells its products through sales associates and brokers, affiliated corporate agencies, independent corporate agencies, and individual agencies. Aflac Incorporated was founded in 1955 and is headquartered in Columbus, Georgia.

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By John Kell]

    Aflac Inc.’s(AFL) fourth-quarter earnings rose 16% but a weaker yen and dollar exchange rate continued to weigh on the company’s core operations in Japan. Shares edged down 2.4% to $60 premarket.

  • [By Daniela Pylypczak]

    Following the biggest one-day drop in more than six months, U.S. equities finally managed to rebound on Tuesday. After the closing bell, AFLAC (AFL) announced its fourth quarter results.
    AFL’s Earnings in Brief

    AFL reported earnings of $1.45 per share, up from from $1.24 per share in the Q4 of last year. Analysts expected to see EPS of $1.39. Revenue was $5.8 billion, coming in below analysts’ estimate of $5.91 billion. The company said that revenue decreased 9.0% in the fourth quarter of 2013, compared with $6.4 billion in the fourth quarter of 2012. A weaker yen/dollar exchange rate was noted as the primary cause of the decline; a significant portion of Aflac’s business is in Japan.

    CEO Commentary

    Daniel P. Amos, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer commented: “We are very pleased with Aflac’s financial performance for both the quarter and year. As the year progressed, operating earnings per diluted share were better than expected, and we finished the year slightly ahead of our expectation for operating earnings to increase 5%, excluding the impact of the yen… Overall, we were pleased with our investment results in 2013, especially in light of the low-yield environment in both Japan and the U.S.  We position ourselves first to ensure we meet our policyholder obligations. We then seek to achieve a high degree of confidence in allocating capital to our shareholders while also pursuing investment strategies that enhance our overall income growth.”

    AFL’s Dividend

    The board of directors declared the first quarter cash dividend of $0.37 per share. The next dividend is payable on March 3, 2014, to shareholders of record at the close of business on February 14, 2014.

    Stock Performance 

    AFLAC shares traded 1.2% higher on Tuesday. The stock is down 7.94% YTD.

Top Insurance Stocks To Watch For 2014: First American Financial Corp (FAF)

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

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

Title Insurance and Services Segment

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

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

Specialty Insurance Segment

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

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

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

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By alicet236]

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

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

  • [By Canadian Value]

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

  • [By Jon C. Ogg]

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

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

Top Insurance Stocks To Watch For 2014: Zurich Insurance Group AG (ZURN)

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

  • [By Namitha Jagadeesh]

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

Top Insurance Stocks To Watch For 2014: Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc. (MMC)

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

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Christina Rexrode]

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

  • [By Ben Levisohn]

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

  • [By Keith Speights]

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