5 Stocks Pushing The Insurance Industry Higher

Editor's Note: TheStreet ratings do not represent the views of TheStreet's staff or its contributors. Ratings are established by computer based on metrics for performance (which includes growth, stock performance, efficiency and valuation) and risk (volatility and solvency). Companies with poor cash flow or high debt levels tend to earn lower ratings in our model

All three major indices are trading down today with the Dow Jones Industrial Average ( ^DJI) trading down 28 points (-0.2%) at 13,217 as of Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012, 12:05 PM ET. The NYSE advances/declines ratio sits at 1,125 issues advancing vs. 1,742 declining with 157 unchanged.

The Insurance industry currently sits up 0.3% versus the S&P 500, which is down 0.3%. Top gainers within the industry include Proassurance Corporation ( PRA), up 6.8%, Aegon ( AEG), up 1.3% and ING Groep N.V ( ING), up 0.5%.

TheStreet Ratings group would like to highlight 5 stocks pushing the industry higher today:

5. MBIA ( MBI) is one of the companies pushing the Insurance industry higher today. As of noon trading, MBIA is up $0.63 (7.7%) to $8.77 on heavy volume Thus far, 2.6 million shares of MBIA exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 2.8 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $8.16-$8.91 after having opened the day at $8.16 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $8.14.

MBIA Inc., together with its subsidiaries, provides financial guarantee insurance and related reinsurance, advisory, and portfolio services for the public and structured finance markets; and asset management advisory services in the United States and internationally. MBIA has a market cap of $1.6 billion and is part of the financial sector. Shares are down 27.9% year to date as of the close of trading on Wednesday. Currently there are no analysts that rate MBIA a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 1 rates it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates MBIA as a sell. The company's weaknesses can be seen in multiple areas, such as its unimpressive growth in net income, generally high debt management risk, generally disappointing historical performance in the stock itself and feeble growth in its earnings per share. Get the full MBIA Ratings Report now.

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4. As of noon trading, Manulife Financial Corporation ( MFC) is up $0.10 (0.8%) to $13.40 on light volume Thus far, 621,263 shares of Manulife Financial Corporation exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 1.9 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $13.26-$13.44 after having opened the day at $13.28 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $13.30.

Manulife Financial Corporation, together with its subsidiaries, provides financial protection and wealth management products and services to individuals and group customers primarily in Asia, Canada, and the United States. Manulife Financial Corporation has a market cap of $24.3 billion and is part of the financial sector. The company has a P/E ratio of 47.6, above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 25.4% year to date as of the close of trading on Wednesday. Currently there are 6 analysts that rate Manulife Financial Corporation a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 3 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Manulife Financial Corporation as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its solid stock price performance, increase in net income and reasonable valuation levels. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including disappointing return on equity and poor profit margins. Get the full Manulife Financial Corporation Ratings Report now.

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3. As of noon trading, Aon plc ( AON) is up $0.41 (0.7%) to $56.86 on light volume Thus far, 416,685 shares of Aon plc exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 1.6 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $56.30-$56.96 after having opened the day at $56.36 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $56.45.

Aon Corporation provides risk management services, insurance and reinsurance brokerage, and human resource consulting and outsourcing services primarily in the United States, the Americas, the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Asia Pacific. Aon plc has a market cap of $18.0 billion and is part of the financial sector. The company has a P/E ratio of 19.6, above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 20.7% year to date as of the close of trading on Wednesday. Currently there are 6 analysts that rate Aon plc a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 9 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Aon plc as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its solid stock price performance, growth in earnings per share, revenue growth, reasonable valuation levels and good cash flow from operations. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally high debt management risk by most measures that we evaluated. Get the full Aon plc Ratings Report now.

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2. As of noon trading, Prudential Financial ( PRU) is up $0.35 (0.7%) to $53.02 on light volume Thus far, 913,582 shares of Prudential Financial exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 3.8 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $52.64-$53.50 after having opened the day at $52.76 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $52.67.

Prudential Financial, Inc., through its subsidiaries, provides various financial products and services, including life insurance, annuities, retirement-related services, mutual funds, and investment management services in the United States, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Prudential Financial has a market cap of $24.2 billion and is part of the financial sector. The company has a P/E ratio of 20.8, above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 4.6% year to date as of the close of trading on Wednesday. Currently there are 12 analysts that rate Prudential Financial a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 5 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Prudential Financial as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its reasonable valuation levels, good cash flow from operations and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including deteriorating net income, disappointing return on equity and poor profit margins. Get the full Prudential Financial Ratings Report now.

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1. As of noon trading, MetLife ( MET) is up $0.22 (0.7%) to $33.84 on heavy volume Thus far, 9.0 million shares of MetLife exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 10.4 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $33.51-$34.33 after having opened the day at $33.60 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $33.61.

MetLife, Inc., through its subsidiaries, provides insurance, annuities, and employee benefit programs in the United States, Japan, Latin America, the Asia Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East. MetLife has a market cap of $36.2 billion and is part of the financial sector. The company has a P/E ratio of 13.7, below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 7.8% year to date as of the close of trading on Wednesday. Currently there are 14 analysts that rate MetLife a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 3 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates MetLife as a hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its reasonable valuation levels, good cash flow from operations and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including deteriorating net income, disappointing return on equity and poor profit margins. Get the full MetLife Ratings Report now.

EXCLUSIVE OFFER: Jim Cramer's Protégé, Dave Peltier, only buys Stocks Under $10 that he thinks could potentially double. See what he's trading today with a 14-day FREE pass

If you are interested in one of these 5 stocks, ETFs may be of interest. Investors who are bullish on the insurance industry could consider KBW Insurance ETF ( KIE) while those bearish on the insurance industry could consider Proshares Short Financials ( SEF).

A reminder about TheStreet Ratings group: TheStreet ratings do not represent the views of TheStreet's staff or its contributors. Ratings are established by computer based on metrics for performance (which includes growth, stock performance, efficiency and valuation) and risk (volatility and solvency). Companies with poor cash flow or high debt levels tend to earn lower ratings in our model.

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