MetLife

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As the largest life insurer in the U.S., MetLife ( MET) has a pretty stolid business. Insurance isn't that exciting, but sometimes, boring is better for your portfolio.

MetLife may be the biggest insurer here at home, but the firm has growth at its fingertips in overseas markets. With operations in more than 50 countries, MetLife has exposure to currencies and economies that are much better positioned to swell in size -- particularly if the U.S. dollar starts to slump on an exodus from treasuries. Latin America is an especially attractive market for MetLife right now, and management knows it - the region makes up around half of the countries that MET operates in.

Here at home, the commoditization of the insurance business has made profitability more challenging. That said, MET's size provides a big advantage. Because MetLife can underwrite business that smaller insurer's don't have the scale to dump on their balance sheets, the firm has an operational advantage in an industry where advantages are few and far between.

MetLife is another financial firm that became a bank holding company in the height of the financial crisis, but the firm is trying to shed that status. Management has been selling off its banking assets for the past few years, decreasing its exposure to Europe, and working on gaining approval from regulators. Once that happens, MET will look more attractive to investors.

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