3 Insurance Stocks Moving The Industry Upward

Editor's Note: Any reference to TheStreet Ratings and its underlying recommendation does not reflect the opinion of TheStreet, Inc. or any of its contributors including Jim Cramer or Stephanie Link.

All three major indices traded up today with the Dow Jones Industrial Average ( ^DJI) trading up 154 points (0.9%) at 17,210 as of Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014, 4:20 PM ET. The NYSE advances/declines ratio sits at 1,794 issues advancing vs. 1,244 declining with 169 unchanged.

The Insurance industry as a whole closed the day up 0.9% versus the S&P 500, which was up 0.8%. Top gainers within the Insurance industry included Baldwin & Lyons ( BWINA), up 1.5%, Life Partners Holdings ( LPHI), up 3.6%, Tiptree Financial ( TIPT), up 4.2%, Hallmark Financial Services ( HALL), up 3.2% and Investors Title ( ITIC), up 1.7%.

TheStreet Ratings Group would like to highlight 3 stocks pushing the industry higher today:

Investors Title ( ITIC) is one of the companies that pushed the Insurance industry higher today. Investors Title was up $1.25 (1.7%) to $73.30 on light volume. Throughout the day, 1,065 shares of Investors Title exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 5,700 shares. The stock ranged in a price between $72.00-$73.30 after having opened the day at $72.14 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $72.05.

Investors Title Company, through its subsidiaries, provides title insurance to residential, institutional, commercial, and industrial properties in the United States. Investors Title has a market cap of $147.4 million and is part of the financial sector. Shares are down 10.3% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Tuesday. Currently there are no analysts who rate Investors Title a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and none rate it a hold.

STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

TheStreet Ratings rates Investors Title as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and attractive valuation levels. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income.

Highlights from TheStreet Ratings analysis on ITIC go as follows:

  • ITIC has no debt to speak of therefore resulting in a debt-to-equity ratio of zero, which we consider to be a relatively favorable sign.
  • INVESTORS TITLE CO's earnings per share declined by 14.1% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. This company has not demonstrated a clear trend in earnings over the past 2 years, making it difficult to accurately predict earnings for the coming year. During the past fiscal year, INVESTORS TITLE CO increased its bottom line by earning $7.08 versus $5.25 in the prior year.
  • ITIC, with its decline in revenue, underperformed when compared the industry average of 24.1%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 1.4%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • Reflecting the weaknesses we have cited, including the decline in the company's earnings per share, ITIC has underperformed the S&P 500 Index, declining 5.87% from its price level of one year ago. Looking ahead, although the push and pull of the overall market trend could certainly make a critical difference, we do not see any strong reason stemming from the company's fundamentals that would cause a continuation of last year's decline. In fact, the stock is now selling for less than others in its industry in relation to its current earnings.

You can view the full analysis from the report here: Investors Title Ratings Report

STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

At the close, Hallmark Financial Services ( HALL) was up $0.33 (3.2%) to $10.62 on average volume. Throughout the day, 23,450 shares of Hallmark Financial Services exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 28,900 shares. The stock ranged in a price between $10.19-$10.64 after having opened the day at $10.31 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $10.29.

Hallmark Financial Services, Inc., an insurance holding company, markets, distributes, underwrites, and services property/casualty insurance products to businesses and individuals in the United States. The company operates in Standard Commercial, Specialty Commercial, and Personal segments. Hallmark Financial Services has a market cap of $196.1 million and is part of the financial sector. Shares are up 15.0% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Tuesday. Currently there are no analysts who rate Hallmark Financial Services a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 1 rates it a hold.

STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

TheStreet Ratings rates Hallmark Financial Services as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its solid stock price performance, impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow.

Highlights from TheStreet Ratings analysis on HALL go as follows:

  • Looking at where the stock is today compared to one year ago, we find that it is not only higher, but it has also clearly outperformed the rise in the S&P 500 over the same period. Although other factors naturally played a role, the company's strong earnings growth was key. Looking ahead, unless broad bear market conditions prevail, we still see more upside potential for this stock, despite the fact that it has already risen over the past year.
  • HALLMARK FINANCIAL SERVICES reported significant earnings per share improvement in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, HALLMARK FINANCIAL SERVICES increased its bottom line by earning $0.43 versus $0.18 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($0.45 versus $0.43).
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Insurance industry. The net income increased by 152.4% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from -$3.15 million to $1.65 million.
  • Although HALL's debt-to-equity ratio of 0.23 is very low, it is currently higher than that of the industry average.
  • The revenue fell significantly faster than the industry average of 24.1%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues fell by 18.6%. The declining revenue has not hurt the company's bottom line, with increasing earnings per share.

You can view the full analysis from the report here: Hallmark Financial Services Ratings Report

STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

Life Partners Holdings ( LPHI) was another company that pushed the Insurance industry higher today. Life Partners Holdings was up $0.07 (3.6%) to $2.00 on light volume. Throughout the day, 13,308 shares of Life Partners Holdings exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 20,000 shares. The stock ranged in a price between $1.90-$2.01 after having opened the day at $1.90 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $1.93.

Life Partners Holdings, Inc., through its subsidiary, Life Partners, Inc., operates in the secondary market for life insurance worldwide. It facilitates the sale of life settlements between sellers and purchasers, but does not take possession or control of the policies. Life Partners Holdings has a market cap of $36.9 million and is part of the financial sector. Shares are up 11.1% year-to-date as of the close of trading on Tuesday. Currently there are no analysts who rate Life Partners Holdings a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and none rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Life Partners Holdings as a sell. The company's weaknesses can be seen in multiple areas, such as its deteriorating net income, disappointing return on equity and generally disappointing historical performance in the stock itself.

Highlights from TheStreet Ratings analysis on LPHI go as follows:

  • The company, on the basis of change in net income from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500 and the Diversified Financial Services industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 203.4% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from $1.68 million to -$1.74 million.
  • Return on equity has greatly decreased when compared to its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a signal of major weakness within the corporation. Compared to other companies in the Diversified Financial Services industry and the overall market, LIFE PARTNERS HOLDINGS INC's return on equity significantly trails that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • The share price of LIFE PARTNERS HOLDINGS INC has not done very well: it is down 9.51% and has underperformed the S&P 500, in part reflecting the company's sharply declining earnings per share when compared to the year-earlier quarter. The fact that the stock is now selling for less than others in its industry in relation to its current earnings is not reason enough to justify a buy rating at this time.
  • LIFE PARTNERS HOLDINGS INC has experienced a steep decline in earnings per share in the most recent quarter in comparison to its performance from the same quarter a year ago. This company has not demonstrated a clear trend in earnings over the past 2 years, making it difficult to accurately predict earnings for the coming year. During the past fiscal year, LIFE PARTNERS HOLDINGS INC continued to lose money by earning -$0.13 versus -$0.16 in the prior year.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 61.65% to -$1.10 million when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, LIFE PARTNERS HOLDINGS INC has also vastly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of 0.71%.

You can view the full analysis from the report here: Life Partners Holdings Ratings Report

STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

Editor's Note: Any reference to TheStreet Ratings and its underlying recommendation does not reflect the opinion of TheStreet, Inc. or any of its contributors including Jim Cramer or Stephanie Link.

If you liked this article you might like

3 Great 'Under-the-Radar' Stocks

3 Great 'Under-the-Radar' Stocks

Insider Trading Alert - ITIC, OLBK And IILG Traded By Insiders

Insider Trading Alert - ITIC, OLBK And IILG Traded By Insiders

Insider Trading Alert - CMPR, ITIC And JBHT Traded By Insiders

Insider Trading Alert - CMPR, ITIC And JBHT Traded By Insiders

13 Best Small- and Mid-Cap Stocks to Buy for 2016

13 Best Small- and Mid-Cap Stocks to Buy for 2016

3 Stocks Pushing The Insurance Industry Lower

3 Stocks Pushing The Insurance Industry Lower