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Markel Is a Great Choice for Long-Term Investors: Opinion

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Insurers are having a great year, and Markel (MKL - Get Report) is doing great.

Although its main business is insurance and that segment is doing well, some of the investments it has been making with its excess cash are performing even better.

The economy is in recovery, and while the market as measured by the Value Line Index was up 12% in the past year, Markel is up more than 24% for the same period:

Source: Barchart.com

Markel Corporation markets and underwrites specialty insurance products in the United States and internationally. It operates in three segments: Excess and Surplus Lines, Specialty Admitted, and London Insurance Market.

The Excess and Surplus Lines segment writes property and casualty insurance outside of the standard market for hard-to-place risks, including catastrophe-exposed property, professional liability, products liability, general liability, and commercial umbrella, as well as provides environmental, transportation, inland marine, ocean marine, casualty facultative, railroad, and public entity insurance products.

The Specialty Admitted segment writes risks that remain with an admitted insurance company for marketing and regulatory reasons. This segment writes specialty program, personal and commercial property, and liability and workers' compensation insurance products.

The London Insurance Market segment writes specialty property, casualty, professional liability, equine, marine, energy, and trade credit insurance and reinsurance products. The company was founded in 1930 and is headquartered in Glen Allen, Virginia. (The preceding company profile is from Yahoo! Finance.)

Factors to Consider

Technical factors provided by Barchart.com

The stock rates a 96% Barchart technical buy signal as well as a Trend Spotter buy signal. It is trading above its 20-, 50- and 100-day moving average and hit 15 new highs in the last quarter as well as 31 new highs in the past year.

The price increased 14% for the quarter and 24% in the past year. The Relative Strength Index is 64.67%, and Barchart computes a technical support level at 470.41. The price recently was 476.50, which is above its 50-day moving average of 448.14.

Fundamental Factors

Wall Street is following this stock, and seven brokerage firms assigned 11 analysts to predict the company's numbers. They project revenue will increase by 8.8% this year and another 6.6% next year. Earnings are estimated to increase by 37.1% this year and an additional 8.2% next year. They're expected and continue to increase by an annual rate of 11.75% for five years out. The price-to-earnings ratio is a reasonable 21.24 when compared to the market P/E of 15-plus. The company has a single-A financial strength rating.
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