This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

Some Insurance for Your Stock Portfolio

Stocks in this article: KIE WSH MMC AON TRV ALL SPY

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- After the mugging Hurricane Sandy delivered to a huge swath of the U.S., many investors became turned off to insurance stocks. It has led to a buying opportunity. Let's dig a little deeper.

All insurance companies are not created equal and their exposure to the devastation of Sandy isn't equal either. That's why the analyst at Morgan Stanley who covers insurance companies recently predicted many companies will take an earnings hit in the fourth quarter to cover the losses they'll be paying.

Earnings estimates for insurers like Dow 30 member Travelers Insurance (TRV) and "good hands" insurance star Allstate (ALL) have been cut by as much as 50% due to the Sandy-related payout costs.

Yet, according to an editorial in the Wall Street Journal by Brett Arends, "... T he industry has more than $500 billion in capital to pay claims, and the final bill will be a tiny fraction of that." He claims the real issue for shareholders is the insurance industry has too much money, and that the results have been "...a price war, as underwriters have cut fees, especially on commercial policies, in order to keep market share."

As we all know, no matter what industry we're focused on, a price war can often make all the players suffer. That's why, according to Meyer Shields, an insurance analyst at financial services firm Stifel, Nicolaus, " Insurance prices fell 50% to 60% from 2004 to 2011. Insurers were not earning their cost of capital. There was too much competition."

The result, according to industry analysts, is that insurers now pay out more in claims and expenses than they collect in premiums. They try to make up for the shortfall by investing those premiums, but that hasn't worked too well. Their average return on capital has been a paltry 3% to 5%.

The Journal article claimed the major publicly traded insurance companies have averaged share price gains of around 16% so far this year. Finding that hard to believe, I looked for an ETF that trades mainly insurance-related companies. Much to my surprise I found one.

1 of 3

Select the service that is right for you!

Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!


DOW 18,053.71 +23.50 0.13%
S&P 500 2,088.77 +6.89 0.33%
NASDAQ 4,806.8590 +33.3870 0.70%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs