How the top 10 publicly held life insurers performed last week
Warren S. Hersch
September 02, 2014 at 01:15 PM
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This week LifeHealthPro reviews the stock performance of 10 leading publicly held life insurers — AIG, MetLife, Prudential Financial, among others — and provides context by highlighted key macroeconomic and industry developments during the week. The 10 companies are the same as those featured in an August 21 LifeHealthPro story listing the top 10 life insurers based on their second quarter net income.
So how did the insurers’ stocks fare over the five days reviewed, August 25-29? All of the companies experienced share price rises over the five days. Ameriprise Financial enjoyed the biggest gain, its stock rising by $1.61 to close on Friday at $125.76.
The second biggest gainer was Lincoln National: The company’s shares rose to $55.04 from $53.80 over the course of the week, a $1.24 rise. The third top finisher was Principal Financial Group. The company’s shares rose to $54.29 from $53.23, a $1.06 increase.
Other companies among the Top 10 enjoyed more modest gains. Among them:
Underpinning the mostly positive performance of the life insurer stocks were gains in the major market indices. Over the five days, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 86.64 points. The S&P 500 edged up 11.63 points. And the NASDAQ composite index rose 16.55 points.
Helping to lift stocks during the week was increased investor optimism following the release of a new report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The BEA report estimated that U.S. real gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of 4.2 percent in the second quarter of 2014. In the first quarter, real GDP decreased 2.1 percent.
“The increase in real GDP in the second quarter primarily reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE), private inventory investment, exports, nonresidential fixed investment, state and local government spending, and residential fixed investment,” the report states.
Part of the above-referenced personal consumption went into the purchase of new homes. A report from The National Association of Realtors indicates that U.S. home buyers signed more contracts to buy existing homes in July, boosting the association’s “pending home sales index” between June and July by 3.3 percent.
Turning to industry developments, the major news of the week was the retirement of Robert Benmosche, who is stepping down this weekend after five years as AIG’s chief executive. Benmosche’s departure follows the disclosure that he was diagnosed last May with a terminal form of cancer, a prognosis his doctors estimated leaves him with 9 months to a year to live.
The following pages give a company-by-company breakdown of the insurers’ stock performance during the week of August 25th.