NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Investors are ignoring insurance stocks, pushing down trading volume on the New York Stock Exchange by 20%.

The following five insurers are an exception. Trading is 83% higher than average, led by two health insurers. (The list excludes Berkshire Hathaway ( BRK.A), which isn't mainly an insurer.) Higher interest in the shares can lead to increased profits for investors.

5. Centene ( CNC) is a Missouri-based health-insurance company.

Weekly Volume as Percentage of Average: 171%

Financial Fundamentals: Third-quarter cash and equivalents of $394 million rose 4%. Total assets climbed 20%. Liabilities advanced 18%. Policy income gained 12%. Net income increased for the second consecutive quarter, totaling $23.8 million, despite a 49% drop in investment income.

Market Indicators: Investors reacted to a stock issuance by dumping the shares, leading to a 6.9% drop. The shares are down 7.6% this year and up 8.4% over 12 months. The price is 10% below analysts' consensus target. The price-to-earnings ratio is 10.2, with a price-to-book value of 147%. Short interest is waning. No dividend.

News and Gossip: Fourth-quarter earnings are expected Feb. 9. The company will use $300 million raised in a share sale for debt repayment.

4. Amerigroup ( AGP) is a Virginia-based Medicare and Medicaid specialist insurer.

Weekly Volume as Percentage of Average: 174%

Financial Fundamentals: Third-quarter cash and equivalents declined 9%, but assets remained steady. Policy income continued to rise, gaining 17%. Total membership was up marginally. Investment income dropped 70%. Increased medical expenses were mitigated by reduced underwriting and other expenses. Net income plunged 43% to $22.5 million.

Market Indicators: The price-to-earnings ratio of 15.8 is higher than the trailing P/E of 10, and, if investment earnings improve, this would change. Price-to-book value is 146%. Short interest has halved since December. The stock price is down 6.7% over one week but up 1% for the year and 1.2% over 12 months. There's a 4.7% price gap between analysts' consensus target and today's price. No dividend.

News and Gossip: Fourth-quarter earnings are due Feb. 19.

3. American Safety Insurance Holdings ( ASI) is a Bermuda-based reinsurance and alternative-risk property and casualty insurer.

Weekly Volume as Percentage of Average: 181%

Financial Fundamentals: Third-quarter cash and equivalents of $21.5 million doubled. Total assets are up 14%. Policy income is down 4%. Investment income remained steady. The company posted a profit for three consecutive quarters, with net income of $5.3 million in the third quarter. Cash flow from operating activities continued to shrink, falling 82%.

Market Indicators: The price-to-earnings ratio is 7.7. Price-to-book value of 56% is lower than the average insurer. The stock price is down fractionally this year but up 31% over 12 months. Analysts' consensus target is 25%, indicating an opportunity. No dividend.

News and Gossip: Fourth-quarter earnings will be released March 3.

2. WellPoint ( WLP) is an Indianapolis-based health-insurance company.

Weekly Volume as Percentage of Average: 185%

Financial Fundamentals: Cash and equivalents grew in the third quarter, ending a decline. Investments continued to grow, up 4.6%. Policy income remained steady. Revenue rose 3%. Operating income was down 40% but overall health-care margins of 7.9% for the first half of 2009 exceeded the 1.9% average of peers.

Market Indicators: The price-to-earnings ratio is 11%. Price-to-book value is 137%. The stock price has risen 16% this year and 86% over 12 months. The shares meet analysts' consensus target. No dividend.

News and Gossip: Opportunity lies in health-care reform being passed, which would enlarge the market for policy underwriting. WellPoint is well-positioned to take advantage of efficiencies. Fourth-quarter earnings are due Jan. 27.

1. Humana ( HUM) is a Louisville, Ken.-based health insurer specializing in Medicare supplemental policies.

Weekly Volume as Percentage of Average: 206%

Financial Fundamentals: Third-quarter cash and equivalents fell 6%. Investments were up 47%. Policy income rose 6%. Investment income dropped 7%. Reining in expenses resulted in a 65% jump in profit.

Market Indicators: The price-to-earnings ratio is 7.2, lower than the 8.9 average. Price-to-book value is 157%. The stock has risen 17% this year and 60% over 12 months. No short interest. The shares are 1.6% higher than analysts' consensus target. No dividend.

News and Gossip: The company would potentially benefit if the government failed to pass health-care reform, as its Medicare Advantage rates would likely remain the same. Still, if reform is passed, Humana would probably gain new members. Fourth-quarter earnings are due Feb. 1.

Gavin Magor is the senior analyst responsible for assigning financial-strength ratings to insurance companies. He conducts industry analysis and supports consumer products. Magor has more than 22 years of international experience in operations and credit-risk management, commercial lending and analysis. His experience includes international assignments in Sweden, Mexico, Brazil and the U.S. He holds a master's degree in business administration from The Open University in the U.K.

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