When major corporations need to protect themselves against catastrophic risks, they turn to ACE (ACE - Get Report). Around 90% of ACE's revenues come from its commercial property-casualty insurance line, a business with high barriers to entry for the otherwise commoditized insurance industry. Because few insurers can offer the scale that ACE offers, the company is able to underwrite profitable policies with reduced competition.
While ACE's industry positioning is certainly enviable, its risk management practices haven't been in recent years. Like other insurance companies, ACE takes the premiums it receives from customers and invests them in the market. As a result of risky investments, though, ACE took larger losses than most peers during the financial crisis.While the firm's portfolios have largely bounced back, the drawdown will hopefully lead to better risk management practices going forward. The firm's recent 34.3% dividend increase brings its yield up to 2.74% at current price levels.