In this second installment, 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 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.
For the week ending Sept. 19, all but two of the companies experienced share price rises over the five days. Prudential Financial enjoyed the biggest gain, its share price rising by $2.54 to close on Friday at $93.16.
For the second week running, Ameriprise Financial was among the top three performers. The company’s shares rose to $126.65 from $124.66 over the course of the week, up $1.99.
The third top finisher was Lincoln National Corp. Shares of the insurer edged up to $55.64 from $54.73, a $0.91 increase.
Gains in share prices of other companies among the Top 10 were, as was true last week, modest. Here’s a recap:
Bucking the positive trend, Aflac and Reinsurance Group of America saw their shares decline. Aflac dipped $1.39 to close at $58.40. RGA’s stock edged down to $83.05 from $83.50, off $0.45.
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 290.98 points to close at 17,279.74 The S&P 500 edged up 24.36 points. And the NASDAQ composite index rose 12.34 points.
Buoying the market uptick was news of continuing gains in the U.S. economy. A benchmark of future economic performance rose in August, albeit at a reduced rate compared to that of July.
The Conference Board —a business membership and research group that counts 1,200 public and private corporations and other organizations as members, and encompasses 60 countries — disclosed on Friday that its index of leading indicators rose 0.2 percent in August, the seventh consecutive increase recorded by the not-for-profit organization. The gain was, however, down from a revised 1.1 percent rise posted in July.
In a press statement, Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein said the index rise is evidence the economy is “gaining traction.” But he was doubtful that economic performance in the third and fourth quarters of 2014 will match that of Q2.
The Conference Board index is composed of 10 forward-pointing indicators. Three were positive during the month; four declined and three were unchanged.
The following pages give a company-by-company breakdown of the insurers’ stock performance during the week of September 14.