Prudential Financial ( PRU) Company profile: Prudential is one of the nation's largest life insurers. It also sells asset-management products to individuals and institutions. It has a large international insurance division that operates in more than 30 countries, and is growing that fastest in Asia. Investor takeaway: Down 12% last year, Prudential's shares have gained 14% this year. S&P downgraded its rating in November to "hold" from "strong buy," but its analyst said that "longer term, we view positively (Prudential's) mix of business and its superior financial flexibility." S&P's survey of analysts' ratings found nine "buys," seven "buy/holds," and four "holds."