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10 Insurance Stocks Shaken By Catastrophes

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Several insurer and reinsurance companies have seen their stock declines, while others have seen share increases since Friday depending in their exposure the earthquake in Japan. Although the full impact of these loses is still unknown, rough estimates by Jefferies International price the insured losses for the industry at $10 billion. Catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide estimates damages could be between $15 billion and $35 billion.

Although it is too early to know the exact estimates, credit rating agencies Moody's and Standard & Poor's have said that U.S., Bermudian and European insurers and reinsurers balance sheets are likely take a large hit due exposure in Japan even though Japanese insurance companies will bear the brunt of the losses.

"The events in Japan -- even though it is too early to estimate the damage - could wipe out a year of earnings," said Standard & Poor's Financial Services analyst Dennis Sugrue.

"The first quarter is going to look pretty grim," said James Eck, vice president senior credit officer, at Moody's. "It will include losses from the Japan earthquake, the Australian floods and the New Zealand earthquake." Eck adds that share repurchases are also likely to not to return until after the 2011 Atlantic Hurricane Season.

While, some insurers may get slammed in the first quarter, some analysts also see it as an opportunity for investors looking for longer term plays to pick up shares at a discount.

Here are the 10 insurers and reinsurers listed on the NYSE and Nasdaq with exposure to the earthquake in Japan that analysts and investors are watching.
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