Posted on 19 Mar 2012
The property & casualty insurance industry has posted mixed results of late. Although the SPDR S&P Insurance ETF (KEI) -- which seeks to reflect the performance of approximately 24 property and casualty insurance companies -- is up more than 3 percent over the last month and is outperforming the Dow Jones Industrial Average, analysts warn the industry continues to face uncertainty. Five Star Equities examines the outlook for companies in the Property & Casualty Insurance industry and provides equity research on Prudential Financial Inc. PRU +0.27% and Radian Group Inc.
According to a recent report from S&P, the Property & Casualty Insurance industry continues to contend with challenges including "economic uncertainty, lower reinvestment returns due to low interest rates and multiyear price declines and stagnating reserve releases for the commercial lines sector." S&P argues that in pricing for commercial lines insurers may have reached an inflection point during second-quarter 2011 when rates started to flatten, while rates in the personal lines insurers sector have been moderately improving since early 2008.
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In a recent report titled "Opportunities in Reaching the Middle Market with Life Insurance," Conning estimates the middle market life insurance protection gap to be $10.2 trillion -- a 56-percent increase when compared to the firm's last study of the middle market in 2006. The report finds that the total number of lives covered by individual and group life insurance reached its highest point in 2003, but since then, has declined at an annual pace of 1.6 percent.
Earlier this week MetLife Inc., whose plan for a share buyback was rejected by the Federal Reserve, led life insurers lower in New York trading on speculation the industry's biggest companies may face tighter capital rules. According to a report from Bloomberg, MetLife is required to get Fed approval for its capital plans because it owns a bank, while Newark, New Jersey-based Prudential isn't subject to the same scrutiny.