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AFL) may be best-known for its series of ads featuring an unlucky cartoon duck, but this $31 billion supplemental insurance giant is no joke. Aflac is one of the biggest supplemental insurers in the world, with a lucrative business in the U.S. and Japan. Even though insurance products are largely commoditized these days, Aflac's brand success gives it fatter margins than the norm.
In a nutshell, Aflac's policies pay out predetermined cash benefits if customers meet a predetermined condition -- normally contracting a disease or being involved in an accident. These sorts of loss-of-income policies are proving popular in the wake of the Great Recession as consumers look for way to protect income. And since they're deducted directly from paychecks in many cases, there's no sticker shock effect from seeing money go out each month.
Japan is, by far, Aflac's most important market. The country makes up around 80% of the firm's income, the result of a sticker customer base and a culture that's more eager to offset income risks. A solid balance sheet position and solid relative strength in 2013 make this Rocket Stock a good bet for the final quarter of the year.