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Portfolio > Economy & Markets > Stocks

'Santa Claus Rally' Made Us Jolly

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By Thomas K. Meakin

NU Stock Analyst

The Christmas season, the season to be jolly, produced an investor-pleasing Santa Claus rally in insurance stocks. Even better, it was a year-end surge that enabled insurance and financial services issues to outperform the general market in December.

Check the monthly statistics. The 117 stocks followed advanced almost 5%. However, in the general market, the DJIA moved up only 1.73%, the S&P 500 edged ahead 0.76%, and the NASDAQ Composite managed to gain 1.03%.

There were 84 advances and 33 declines, which works out to a 2.5 /1.0 win/lose ratio. There were 18 double-digit advances. All eight industry sectors moved up.

The Reinsurers were statistically the best performers after logging a 6.79% gain.

The Life & Health contingent stood out with a 6.1% advance. There were 24 winners and only 4 losers, which generated a not often seen win/lose ratio of 6/1.

L&H issues produced by the recently demutualized life company stocks are now among the ones we follow. They have acted quite like a subgroup within the L&H company sector. Of interest to us is that they have been top performers.

Just check out the performances of John Hancock Financial, MetLife Inc., MONY Group, Phoenix Cos. Inc., Principal Financial Group and, of course, Prudential Financial Services. In all cases, I would wager the best is yet to come!

Long awaited, the giant Prudential came to market as Prudential Financial Services, and was immediately listed on the NYSE. (Symbol PRU) The offering price of the stock was $27.50. PRU opened at a premium and has moved up to the $33.00 area. Recognizing the company’s numerous insurance and financial services activities, the stock is listed as a Multi-line.

Property & Casualty stocks were solid, though not exciting performers. As a group they advanced 4.88%. There were 28 winners and 14 losers in the P&C group.

The Financial Services group ended up 4.45%. All seven stocks in the group carried plus signs into the record book. There were no double-digit winners. However, there was obvious accumulation in several big institutional stocks. American Express was up 8.45% to $35.69. Citigroup rose 5.39% to $50.48.

That does it for December 2001. It was a rewarding holiday season, which was good to holders of insurance stocks. We are ready for more of same in 2002!

Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, January 21, 2002. Copyright 2002 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.

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