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Selective Insurance Group financial results ended December 31, 2012

Selective Insurance Group financial results ended December 31, 2012 : Selective Insurance Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:SIGI) today reported its financial results for the fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2012.  For the quarter, net income per diluted share was $0.02 and operating loss1 was $0.04.  Net income for the year was $0.68 per diluted share and operating income1 was $0.58 per diluted share.  Overall net premiums written grew 5% in the quarter and retention was up a point to 85%.


“Hurricane Sandy was the most significant event in company history, yet we still ended the quarter with positive net income – a testament to our strong underlying insurance operations performance and our comprehensive reinsurance program,” said Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Gregory E. Murphy.  “For the quarter, Sandy resulted in net catastrophe losses of $47 million and a reinsurance reinstatement premium of $9 million; partially offset by flood claims handling fees of $16 million; resulting in an overall, pre-tax, net loss of $40 million and $0.46 per diluted share after tax.  Sandy contributed 9.8 points to the combined ratio for the quarter, but only 2.5 points to the year, yielding an overall fourth quarter statutory combined ratio of 110.4%, excluding the impact from Sandy2 it was 100.6%.

“The hurricane made landfall in our top market share state of New Jersey,” said Murphy.  “Our Claims and Flood departments have been working tirelessly to resolve claims quickly and fairly, and to inform flood customers of the federally mandated National Flood Insurance Program’s claims process.  Personal lines received approximately 8,000 claims and have closed 85% and commercial lines received approximately 5,000 claims and have closed 62%.

“We were pleased with our overall performance in the quarter, delivering a statutory combined ratio of 100.6%, excluding the impact of Sandy2.  Personal lines led the positive results with a combined ratio of 93.9%, excluding Sandy2, and renewal price that increased 8.3% for the quarter.  In personal lines, we continue to file rate increases as well as improve the mix of business and expand the number of agency storefronts,” said Murphy.

“For the quarter, standard commercial lines had a combined ratio of 101.1%, excluding Sandy2,” continued Murphy.  “We completed our 15th consecutive quarter of price increases with standard commercial lines renewal price up 6.7%, and 6.2% for the year.  Our granular pricing strategy and sophisticated underwriting, as well as our strong agency relationships, has given us an edge over the past several years that continues to pay off in strong results.

“Investment income for the quarter was $26 million, after tax, compared to $23 million in the fourth quarter 2011, due to improved performance in the alternative investment portfolio.  For the year, investment income, after tax, was $100 million.  We continue to manage our investment income through a very low interest rate environment without unduly adding more credit or duration risk,” concluded Murphy.

Fourth Quarter Highlights 2012 Compared to Fourth Quarter 2011

    Net income of $1.3 million, or $0.02 per diluted share, compared to $18.0 million, or $0.33 in 2011
    Operating loss1 of $2.3 million, or $0.04 per diluted share, compared to operating income1 of $20.4 million, or $0.37 in 2011
    Combined ratio: GAAP: 109.0% compared to 97.9% in 2011; Statutory: 110.4% compared to 98.7% in 2011
    Combined ratio excluding the impact of Hurricane Sandy2: GAAP 99.3%; Statutory 100.6%
    Favorable prior year statutory reserve development on our casualty lines totaled $2 million compared to $10 million in 2011
    Total net premiums written (NPW) were $370.6 million, which were reduced by the reinstatement premium related to Hurricane Sandy of $8.6 million
        Standard Commercial Lines NPW were $273.2 million
        Standard Personal Lines NPW were $68.1 million
        Excess and Surplus Lines NPW were $29.4 million
    Catastrophe losses were $33.8 million, after tax, including $30.3 million for Hurricane Sandy
    Gross pre-tax catastrophe losses from Hurricane Sandy were $136 million
    Flood net income of $12.0 million, after tax, including $10.1 million for Hurricane Sandy
    Investment income, after tax, was $26.3 million
    Net realized gains, after tax, totaled $3.6 million

Year-End Highlights for 2012 Compared to Year-End 2011
  •     Net income was $38.0 million, or $0.68 per diluted share, compared to $22.0 million, or $0.40 in 2011
  •     Operating income1 was $32.1 million, or $0.58 per diluted share, compared to $21.2 million, or $0.38 in 2011
  •     Combined ratio: GAAP: 104.0% compared to 107.2% in 2011; Statutory: 103.5% compared to 106.7% in 2011
  •     Combined ratio excluding the impact of Hurricane Sandy2: GAAP 101.5%; Statutory 101.0%
  •     Favorable prior year statutory reserve development on our casualty lines totaled $17 million compared to $29 million in 2011
  •     Total NPW were $1,666.9 million, which were reduced by the reinstatement premium related to Hurricane Sandy of $8.6 million
  •         Standard Commercial Lines NPW were $1,263.7 million
  •         Standard Personal Lines NPW were $289.9 million
  •         Excess and Surplus Lines NPW were $113.3 million
  •     Catastrophe losses were $64.1 million, after tax, including $30.3 million for Hurricane Sandy
  •     Flood net income of $19.1 million, after tax, including $10.1 million for Hurricane Sandy
  •     Investment income, after tax, was $100.3 million
  •     Net realized gains, after tax, totaled $5.8 million for the year

Balance Sheet and Guidance
At December 31, 2012, Selective’s assets were $6.8 billion, up 20% over prior year primarily due to reinsurance recoverables of $1.4 billion, compared with $0.6 billion in 2011, and $4.3 billion in the company’s investment portfolio, which increased 5% compared to December 31, 2011.

Stockholders’ equity was up 3% for the year to $1.1 billion and book value per share increased 2% to $19.77.  Statutory surplus was down 1% in 2012 to $1.1 billion.

Selective’s Board of Directors declared a $0.13 per share quarterly cash dividend on common stock payable March 1, 2013 to stockholders of record as of February 15, 2013.

Selective expects to generate a 2013 full year statutory combined ratio, excluding catastrophes, of 96.0%.  We currently estimate catastrophe losses will add three points to that ratio.  In addition, investment income will be down slightly to $90-$95 million.  Anticipated weighted average shares at year end 2013 of 56 million.

The supplemental investor packet, including financial information that is not part of this press release, is available on the Investor Relations’ page of Selective’s public website at www.selective.com.  Selective’s quarterly analyst conference call will be simulcast at 8:30 a.m. ET, on February 1, 2013 at www.selective.com.  The webcast will be available for rebroadcast until the close of business on March 1, 2013.

About Selective Insurance Group, Inc.
Selective Insurance Group, Inc. is a holding company for ten property and casualty insurance companies rated “A” (Excellent) by A.M. Best.  Through independent agents, the insurance companies offer primary and alternative market insurance for commercial and personal risks, and flood insurance underwritten by the National Flood Insurance Program.  Selective maintains a website at www.selective.com.

Forward-Looking Statements
In this press release, Selective and its management discuss and make statements based on currently available information regarding their intentions, beliefs, current expectations and projections regarding Selective’s future operations and performance.

Certain statements in this report, including information incorporated by reference, are “forward-looking statements” as that term is defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (“PSLRA”).  The PSLRA provides a safe harbor under the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 for forward-looking statements.  These statements relate to our intentions, beliefs, projections, estimations or forecasts of future events or our future financial performance and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause our or our industry’s actual results, levels of activity, or performance to be materially different from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements.  In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by use of words such as “may,” “will,” “could,” “would,” “should,” “expect,” “plan,” “anticipate,” “target,” “project,” “intend,” “believe,” “estimate,” “predict,” “potential,” “pro forma,” “seek,” “likely” or “continue” or other comparable terminology.  These statements are only predictions, and we can give no assurance that such expectations will prove to be correct.  We undertake no obligation, other than as may be required under the federal securities laws, to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

Factors that could cause our actual results to differ materially from those projected, forecasted or estimated by us in forward-looking statements, include, but are not limited to:
  •     difficult conditions in global capital markets and the economy;
  •     deterioration in the public debt and equity markets and private investment marketplace that could lead to investment losses and fluctuations in interest rates;
  •     ratings downgrades could affect investment values and therefore statutory surplus;
  •     the adequacy of our loss reserves and loss expense reserves;
  •     the frequency and severity of natural and man-made catastrophic events, including, but not limited to, hurricanes, tornadoes, windstorms, earthquakes, hail, terrorism, explosions, severe winter weather, floods and fires;
  •     adverse market, governmental, regulatory, legal or judicial conditions or actions;
  •     the concentration of our business in the Eastern Region;
  •     the cost and availability of reinsurance;
  •     our ability to collect on reinsurance and the solvency of our reinsurers;
  •     uncertainties related to insurance premium rate increases and business retention;
  •     changes in insurance regulations that impact our ability to write and/or cease writing insurance policies in one or more states, particularly changes in New Jersey automobile insurance laws and regulations;
  •     recent federal financial regulatory reform provisions that could pose certain risks to our operations;
  •     our ability to maintain favorable ratings from rating agencies, including A.M. Best, Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch;
  •     our entry into new markets and businesses; and
  •     other risks and uncertainties we identify in filings with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, including, but not limited to, our Annual Report on Form 10-K and other periodic reports.

These risk factors may not be exhaustive.  We operate in a continually changing business environment, and new risk factors emerge from time-to-time.  We can neither predict such new risk factors nor can we assess the impact, if any, of such new risk factors on our businesses or the extent to which any factor or combination of factors may cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in any forward-looking statements in this report.  In light of these risks, uncertainties and assumptions, the forward-looking events discussed in this report might not occur.

Selective’s SEC filings can be accessed through the Investor Relations’ section of Selective’s website, www.selective.com, or through the SEC’s EDGAR Database at www.sec.gov (Selective EDGAR CIK No. 0000230557).

1 Operating income differs from net income by the exclusion of realized gains or losses on investments and the results of discontinued operations. It is used as an important financial measure by management, analysts and investors, because the realization of investment gains and losses on sales in any given period is largely discretionary as to timing. In addition, these investment gains and losses, as well as other-than-temporary investment impairments that are charged to earnings and the results of discontinued operations, could distort the analysis of trends. Operating income is not intended as a substitute for net income prepared in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). A reconciliation of operating income to net income is provided in the GAAP Highlights and Reconciliation of Non-GAAP Measures to Comparable GAAP Measures. Statutory data is prepared in accordance with statutory accounting rules as defined by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners Accounting Practices and Procedures Manual and, therefore, is not reconciled to GAAP.

2 The Hurricane Sandy impact includes catastrophe losses, reinstatement premium on the catastrophe reinsurance program and the flood claims handling fees generated as a result of Hurricane Sandy.

Zacks downgraded Rating Stock of Meadowbrook Insurance Group

Zacks downgraded Rating Stock of Meadowbrook Insurance Group : Zacks downgraded shares of Meadowbrook Insurance Group (NYSE: MIG) from a neutral rating to an underperform rating in a report issued on Thursday. They currently have $6.00 target price on the stock.

Meadowbrook Insurance Group traded down 0.95% on Thursday, hitting $6.27. Meadowbrook Insurance Group has a 1-year low of $5.21 and a 1-year high of $10.19. The stock’s 50-day moving average is currently $5.98. The company’s market cap is $312.1 million.

Meadowbrook Insurance Group, Inc. (Meadowbrook) is a specialty focused commercial insurance underwriter and insurance administration services company.

To view Zacks’ full report, visit www.zacks.com
The Mentally Ill Appear at the Gun Hearing:
If you wanted to make a case for mental illness as a primary cause of gun violence, you could pretty much get all the evidence you wanted from yesterday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on possible solutions to the mass shooting epidemic in the U.S. There were so many episodes of batshit paranoia and outright delusion from the anti-gun law speakers that diagnosed schizophrenics bowed their heads in honor. Honestly, if at some point the NRA's Wayne LaPierre had started scrawling a manifesto in his own shit on the walls of the hearing room, the Rude Pundit would have thought, "Well, that was not unexpected."

Let's just lay out the argument quickly. On one side, you have people who want to close a loophole in background checks on gun buyers and who want to ban some semiautomatic weapons and all high-volume magazines, all while making sure that law-abiding citizens and legal immigrants can purchase most every other kind of rifle and handgun, under the idea that some safeguards and minor limitations are not unreasonable. On the other side, you have "I dare you pussies to try to pry my right to buy a dozen AR-15s from my cold, dead hands, motherfuckers." So you can see how we might be at loggerheads here.

Honestly, the pro-gun (which is not really correct, since everyone on that committee is "pro-gun" to some extent) speakers veered between creepy and hysterical. Embodying the gun nut ethos was Gayle Trotter, a senior "fellow" at Who the Fuck Cares? Women's Group Against Women. Trotter had used the scary true story of a woman defending her home from an intruder by wielding a gun, and then she talked about how much women need guns and love the Second Amendment in a way they could never love a man.

Answering a question from Chuck Grassley, Trotter said, really, "An assault weapon in the hands of a young woman defending her babies in her home becomes a defense weapon. And the peace of mind that a woman has as she’s facing three, four, five violent attackers, intruders in her home with her children screaming in the background -- the peace of mind that she has knowing that she has a scary-looking gun gives her more courage when she’s fighting hardened violent criminals. And if we ban these types of assault weapons, you are putting women at a great disadvantage, more so than men, because they do not have the same type of physical strength and opportunity to defend themselves in a hand-to-hand struggle. And they’re -- they’re not criminals. They’re moms. They’re young women. And they’re not used to violent confrontations." When Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse pointed out that the gun the woman in Trotter's story used was not subject to any of the bans being suggested. Trotter didn't care. Men can beat up the attackers, she inferred, apparently believing that every male has an inner Liam Neeson waiting to kick some sex slavers' asses. Trotter has been eviscerated by others already for her comments.

Throughout the hearing, we were in the realm of images straight out of every revenge fantasy movie. Lindsey Graham, who always sounds like the prettiest debutante at the Daughters of the Confederacy Ball just exiting a bathroom stall where she blew the captain of the football team, told another story of a woman using a gun, a woman who pumped five bullets into a potential assailant in her home, where she was with her 9 year-old twins. Graham offered, "Would I be a reasonable American to want my family to have the 15-round magazine in a semi-automatic weapon to make sure that if there’s two intruders, she doesn’t run out of bullets? Am I an unreasonable person for saying that in that situation, the 15-round magazine makes sense?" Yes, but what if there were ten intruders, a zombie army, and a shark driving a helicopter? Would one be unreasonable asking for landmines and an RPG launcher? The chance of any of these scenarios occurring is virtually nil.

He also outed himself, saying, "I have an AR-15 at home and I haven’t hurt anybody and I don’t intend to do it. But I think I would be better off protecting my business or my family if there was law-and-order breakdown in my community, people roaming around my neighborhood to have the AR-15, and I don’t think that makes me and on reasonable person." If you need a hilarious image in your head today, imagine Graham, firing away on his Bushmaster, laughing madly, girlishly, as he shoots the crotch out of a human-shaped target.

And as for Wayne LaPierre? The nation he describes all the time is a nonstop hellscape of horror and murder, with privately-owned semiautomatic weapons purchased without annoying background checks as the only thing standing between society and utter anarchy. At one point, responding to John Cornyn's recitation of stats on prosecutions of people who lie on background checks, LaPierre went nearly incoherent: "I mean, the fact is, in the shadow of this Capitol, right under everyone’s noses, in this building, right now there are drug dealers out in the street with guns, violating federal law, illegal. There’s all kinds of drugs and cocaine being sold. By God, gangs are trafficking 13-year-old girls. And it goes on day, after day, after day. What we’ve got to do is interdict these people. Get them off the street before they get to the next crime scene." Then he moved on to background checks for the mentally ill.

Which, as the Rude Pundit said before, all of these assholes should fail.
Hispanic Republicans to White Republicans: You Can Still Be Jerks, Just Not Such Big Jerks:
As we move towards the inevitable watered-down version of immigration reform that will contain just enough good stuff to make it worthwhile, but still be condemned on the right and the left as overly compromised, one thing is absolutely clear: non-Hispanic Republicans really need to stop acting like such assholes towards non-white immigrants or they'll never get the anchor babies to vote for 'em. Thankfully, here to offer guidance is the Hispanic Leadership Network, a "center-right" group that has on its advisory committee former Attorney General and torture enabler Alberto Gonzales, as well as current politicians and elected officials. Yep, the HLN has put out a memo to Republicans in Congress on that most important issue in immigration reform: the words that are used.

For instance, the Hispanics on the Hispanic Leadership Council advise the gringo/as that, when doing an interview on immigration reform, don't say "We are against amnesty," even if you are against amnesty. Why? Because peoples is just stupid motherfuckers: "Note," the HLN notes. "Most everyone is against amnesty and this is interpreted as being against any reform." See? Even if "everyone" is against it, it'll still send them into simian rage and cause them to want to vote you out if you say you're anti-amnesty.

Isn't this easy and fun? You can still be a total dickhead. Just don't sound like a total dickhead.

Another example: "When addressing securing our borders," the HLN sternly says, "Do use the wording 'enforcement of our borders includes more border patrol, technology, and building a fence where it makes sense.'" However, "Don't use phrases like 'send them all back,' electric fence,' 'build a wall along the entire border.'" And there's probably few circumstances where "moat filled with alligators that'll rape your ass before eating your face" would be appropriate, too. Also, do we even need to say anything about the stupidity of "self-deport"? It's not mentioned, so it's already dropped out of the lexicon of dickishness.

Some of this is gonna be really hard for the GOP as the immigration reform debate actually moves into a sane, post-election period. Don't say "illegals"? Don't say "aliens"? Don't say, dear God, no, "anchor baby"? Shit, Rep. Steve "The More Vile of the Kings in the House" King of Iowa used the phrase in press release a couple of weeks ago. And you're gonna have to pry the word "illegal" out of Rep. Lamar Smith's cold, dead mouth. A confused Marco Rubio wept.

It's kind of hilarious, no? How Republicans spent the better part of the last four years demonizing undocumented immigrants as subhuman drains on society, job thieves, and criminals, only to see their white asses handed to them at the polls? And now some of them have finally come around to thinking, "Oh, hey, I guess we need to throw a few bones to the spics"? And even those bones are pissing off a good many in the right-right of the GOP and causing Rush Limbaugh to undulate in anger? And do they think that Hispanics are so narrow-minded that all they give a shit about is immigration and not the other blatant cruelty of the Republican Party?

The best part of the memo is when the HLN gets all self-loathing and tells Republicans that they need to lock ol' crazy liberal Ronald Reagan in the cellar: "Don't use President Reagan's immigration reform as an example applicable today," it says, because it was way too compassionate for today's GOP. "That legislation was true amnesty; in addition, border security, fixing our visa system, and a temporary worker program were parts of the reform which were never implemented."

You wouldn't want to remind Hispanic voters that, once upon a time, Republicans weren't complete jerks. Now gnaw on these bones and say they're a meal.

One last one: Apparently, whites in the GOP need to be given strict instructions on how not to be racist pricks. Memos the HLN, "Don't characterize all Hispanics as undocumented and all undocumented as Hispanics." Louis Gohmert just stared at his computer screen, confused as he tried to figure out what that meant. His staff said he was still there, two days later, muttering, "It don' make sense. It jus' don' make sense."
Grappling with Zero Dark Thirty: Torture Works and the CIA Is Nothing But Awesome, Part 2:
Yesterday, the Rude Pundit wrote about the film Zero Dark Thirty's fucked-up attitude towards torture: it's bad, but, hey, we got bin Laden, motherfuckers. Today, with news that the Obama administration has now given up on even the illusion that it's closing Gitmo by shutting down the office that dealt with that possibility and with the military court trials of tortured detainees at Gitmo moving ploddingly towards their inevitable death penalty decisions, we can see that right now the nation, for the most part, has the same attitude as the film towards our American inhumanity.

Another aspect of Zero Dark Thirty that is connected to its attitude towards torture hasn't gotten as much attention. The movie is essentially a hagiography of the CIA, which gave Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal access to documents and agents, which allows the film to say that it's based on "first-hand accounts" of the events. It would have been more honest to say that it's a film about the CIA's perspective on the events, like The Green Berets for intelligence officers, devoted to making the CIA look as good as possible and to allay any fears that it did anything wrong in order to kill bin Laden.

Still, though, the agents are afraid that someone might disapprove of their tactics in the future. When Dan tells Maya, the agent protagonist, he is going back to DC because he's exhausted after torturing over 100 men over the years, he warns Maya that she needs to be careful because at some point someone might be held accountable for torture: "You gotta be real careful with the detainees now. Politics are changing and you don’t want to be the last one holding the dog collar when the oversight committee comes." Of course, we know now that his fears of prosecution are unfounded, unless he's a hillbilly doing cruel things at Abu Ghraib.

The opposition between the cruel-but-necessary work done by the CIA and the limitations of the rule of law is driven home a couple of times: we see our CIA heroes watching uncomfortably as President Obama declares that "America does not torture," and, later, when Maya says that they could ask detainees at Guantanamo Bay if they know the name of bin Laden's courier, she is told by an angry official, "Who the hell am I supposed to ask, some guy in Gitmo who’s all lawyered up?" and he asserts that the defense lawyer for tortured detainees would merely pass on the information to bin Laden. You want to know where the movie stands? That moment, more than nearly any other in the film, is about as clear as can be: due process, habeas corpus, defense lawyers, all are impediments to the goal of killing Osama bin Laden. The movie scoffs at them with no counterpoint, just like it presents torture with no context other than "Man, that sucks for that guy." The movie sets us up to root for the CIA, unquestioningly, so simplistically that it leaves out things like the CIA agents who were against torture, who wanted to follow the rule of law, as it was understood for nearly the entire history of the nation.

In doing so, it unequivocally comes down on the side of the most hawkish elements of the war on terror, whether Bigelow and Boal intended that or not. Of course, an artist doesn't have an obligation to show all sides. And we as an audience don't have an obligation to trust the artist or even like what she's doing. So fuck their intentions. They don't matter. It's like Edvard Munch saying he didn't intend his famous work to be a scream of horror or pain, but that it was the perspective of a dude delighted at a cute kitten, which is just out of the frame. "Well, you might have wanted to paint that, Eddy," you might respond, "but all I see is existential agony, not LOLcats." To accept the filmmakers view of the movie now that it's been criticized for its depiction of torture is to think that it's possible to make an apolitical film that shows torture gives only good information and civil rights get in the way. Shit, Dirty Harry was more honest about saying the same things.

The point here is not whether or not torture works. Obviously, some nuggets of truth will come out from some who are tortured. However, we know that the courier's real name wasn't gotten through torture, and those in the know say that we got his nickname from a detainee before he was tortured. But even if we take as a possibility that torture played a role, the real question is whether or not we could get information without torture, as we have in every other war. Zero Dark Thirty dismisses this when Dan says that Islamic radicals can't be bought off.

The more important questions are ones that the movie ignores, unless you want to overinterpret Maya's tears at the end: Is torture worth it? Isn't it just wrong, no matter what the goal? And, despite all the fucked up things the United States has done in its history, wasn't there some moral high ground in being a country that didn't believe in torturing prisoners and in keeping prisoners indefinitely detained? Torture may no longer be policy, but, sadly, the indefinite detention goes on, with no end in sight, no matter who is in power.  

Zero Dark Thirty asks us to ignore all of this and admire everyone, from the weary torturer to the dogged CIA agent to the lovable lugs in Seal Team Six, as if they are all equal in reaching the ultimate goal.
The Rude Pundit on Today's Stephanie Miller Show (With John Fugelsang):
Today, the Rude Pundit talked to guest host John Fugelsang about Sarah "When the Going Gets Tough, Quit" Palin, religion in your fookin' face, Hillary Clinton kicking ass, and more:


Hey, the Rude Pundit podcast is still out there for you to steal for free.
Grappling with Zero Dark Thirty: Torture Works and the CIA Is Nothing But Awesome, Part 1:
(Yes, there are spoilers. What did you think?)

Now that he's seen the film, the Rude Pundit is going to wade into the debate over the depiction of torture in Zero Dark Thirty. Let's approach this objectively (or, as the filmmakers would say, "almost journalistically") first. Torture scenes occupy a good chunk of the first hour of the two-and-a-half hour film. Plot-wise, prisoners tortured by the CIA, directly or through intermediary countries, give up the name "Abu Ahmed," the cover for Osama Bin Laden's courier, but they do not give his real name or a way to find him. It's not until a few year's later that a character who appears only once in the film tells Maya, the CIA agent protagonist and dogged Osama bin Laden pursuer, that she found the courier's name in a file that was part of a flood of information the CIA received right after the 9/11 attacks.

Simply put, the logical progression of the plot is that Maya and the CIA would not have known to look for the courier had it not been for what was revealed during the torture of multiple prisoners. Yes, detective work in the post-torture (or Obama) era led to the discovery of the real name and then bin Laden's compound, but the awareness of who to look for came from the tortured. As far as the story on film goes, torture works.

The torture scenes are not presented as anything other than brutal and degrading. In fact, the Rude Pundit watched those moments, where CIA interrogator Dan treats Anmar (based, probably, on Mohamed al-Qahtani) like a dog and where Anmar is, more or less, crucified, and thought, "I don't give a damn what side Dan is on. Any nation that does this to people as official policy is asking for payback. And I kind of wanna see Dan get killed." He is not. He gets to return to Washington and work there for the rest of his career, unpunished.

You have to deny what is presented on screen in order to think that the movie says anything other than "Torture is a tool to get information; it is not the only tool, but it is a tool." Director Kathryn Bigelow has said as much, even saying that torture is "reprehensible." But she doesn't say it's wrong or that it didn't work.

What's wrong with the film is that it pretends to be devoid of any moral perspective. By focusing, to the exclusion of anything else, on the hunt for bin Laden, the film wants you to see everything as part of that hunt, especially what gets results. But it's not objective. The torturers are humanized, like when we see Dan and his (no doubt ironically) caged monkeys. The prisoners and Pakistanis are depicted as evil others who are ultimately weak.

We are manipulated with audio of people who died in 9/11. We are shown multiple terrorist attacks, which is fine and relevant, if a bit overwrought. What's the purpose of that other than to say that that the means justify the ends? To show us that terrorists do bad things? No shit. In the context of Zero Dark Thirty, the reason to do that is to make us as driven as Maya to find bin Laden, even if that means beating a prisoner handcuffed to a table.

Later today (or tomorrow): How the CIA is awesome and what it all means.

Insurance claims from the latest Queensland floods

best insurance stock - Insurance claims from the latest Queensland floods have already topped $27 million, as river levels continue to rise in large parts of the state. As of Monday morning, "just shy of 3000 claims" had been lodged relating to losses in Queensland, said Campbell Fuller, general manager for communications at the the Insurance Council of Australia.

The total claimed losses are likely to be "well north of $40 million", he said. "Rivers are still rising across south-eastern Queensland," he said, adding that flood waters were yet to peak at Ipswich and much of Bundaberg remained underwater.

Heavy rain is also falling over much of New South Wales as the remnants of former tropical cyclone Oswald move south.

The Bureau of Meteorology has posted a severe weather warning for destructive winds, heavy rain and abnormally high tides over a wide area stretching from the Illawarra to the Northern Rivers region.

The council yesterday declared a catastrophe for large parts of Queensland affected by storms and inundation. The declaration means insurers have set up a taskforce to co-ordinate their response to recovery efforts.

The floods are the third catastrophe declared so far this year following severe bushfires in south-eastern Tasmania and northern NSW. The council has declared six catastrophes in Queensland for flooding and cyclone damage since 2010, with losses reaching almost $4 billion.

Insurers and re-insurers have singled out water - either too much or too little of it - as the main risk from extreme weather in Australia.

The council, in particular, has been calling for increased spending on efforts to limit the damage from flooding, such as the construction of flood levees around flood-prone towns.

Despite those calls, Mr Fuller said, there had not been much money spent in Queensland since the last big floods there in 2011.

"I'm unaware of any substantive mitigation that has taken place over the past two years," he said.

The ICA has set up a disaster hotline on 1800 734 621 to help people identify their insurer and their coverage, particularly for those unable to access their own records because of the floods Source http://www.watoday.com.au

Insurance Awareness levels of Indonesian society

Insurance Awareness levels of Indonesian society : Despite the relatively high economic growth rate, which according to predictions of 6.5 percent in 2013, however, the public interest to invest through insurance, it is very minimal. lack of investment from the public is more due to the tendency of people do not understand insurance.

Indonesian society tends to think that insurance just throw money, if there is no claim, fact, the need for insurance for the community is important, particularly when income per capita increases.

According to IMF data as of October 2010, the GDP per capita of Indonesia has reached 3000 U.S. dollars. In this condition Indonesia can no longer be called a developing country or emerging market. With a per capita income is growing public awareness of insurance should have increased.

Each individual should have insurance to protect themselves. Moreover, with the increasing growth segment sizeable middle class in Indonesia is expected capabilities Indonesia also increased public spending, including insurance shopping, the Indonesian people often do not understand the importance of insurance. Indonesian society tends to think that insurance just throw money, if there is no claim until the time limit specified. In fact, now many personal line insurance suitable and affordable for the public.

World Bank insurance program in disaster prone Haiti

World Bank insurance program in disaster prone Haiti : an arm of the World Bank next week will unveil a $1.96 million project that aims to help thousands of low-income entrepreneurs in Haiti protect their livelihoods against natural disasters.

The International Finance Corporation says the program is much-needed. Only 0.3 per cent of Haiti's 10 million people have some form of insurance, one of the world's lowest rates.

Small entrepreneurs are particularly vulnerable to uninsured losses, and can default on debts and be disqualified from future loans when they need money to recover.

The insurance will be distributed through the Haitian microfinance institution Fonkoze, and is supposed to help up to 70,000 people over the next three years. The IFC made the announcement Friday. Details will be released next week.

Principal Financial Group Earnings report Next Week

Principal Financial Group Earnings report Next Week : Principal Financial Group Inc. (PFG): Provides retirement savings, investment, and insurance products and services worldwide. Market cap at $8.9B, most recent closing price at $30.30. In Dec 2011: Reported EPS at 0.71 vs. estimate at 0.75 (surprise of -5.3%). In Mar 2012: Reported EPS at 0.7 vs. estimate at 0.74 (surprise of -5.4%). In June 2012: Reported EPS at 0.72 vs. estimate at 0.74 (surprise of -2.7%). In Sep 2012: Reported 0.45 vs. estimate at 0.49 (surprise of -8.2%. [Average earnings surprise at -5.4%]. The company is expected to report earnings on January 31st, 2013.

Health Insurance Innovations ipo stock prices

Best Insurance stock - Health Insurance Innovations ipo stock prices : Health Insurance Innovations Inc. said it expects to raise up to $72.9 million in an initial public offering. The company plans to sell about 5.4 million shares, at between $14 and $16 a share, according to its most recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The shares include 700,000 that underwriters would have an option to purchase to cover over-allotments.

The firm would use $3.5 million of the net proceeds to repay outstanding debt under a term loan and up to $25 million to expand its commission structure, with the rest used for general corporate purposes.

Health Insurance, a Tampa company that develops and administers affordable, Web-based health insurance plans and ancillary products, filed for an IPO in late December.

The company has applied to list its common stock on the NASDAQ Global Market under the symbol “HIIQ.” An expected sale date for the shares was not announced.

Health Insurance Innovations shares prices, Health Insurance Innovations stocks symbol, Health Insurance Innovations stock prediction
Photos That Make the Rude Pundit Want to Smoke One-Pot Meth Until His Teeth Fall Out:


The worker on that cherry-picker right there isn't putting "In God We Trust" in two-foot tall gold letters above a church. Oh, no. That's above the entrance of the Putnam County Courthouse in Cookeville, Tennessee. In fact, the phrase now stands mightily above all four entrances to the courthouse. The effort was funded through donations, and the words went up in November 2012.

Now, to be clear, the motto itself, "In God We Trust," is something that is part of American history, and, for nearly 60 years, it's been the official motto of the United States. So this is not a comment on the appropriateness of the words being on a courthouse, although you'd think that a god you trusted so goddamn much would reduce the amount of methamphetamine production and usage in Putnam County.

Still and all, it leaves a bad taste in the Rude Pundit's mouth that the whole effort was spearheaded by the pastor of the Colonial View Baptist Church in Cookeville. And maybe if they had put it on just one side with, perhaps, "Liberty and Justice For All" or some such nicely patriotic lie over another entrance, it wouldn't seem just so needy and clingy, like God's puppy or his jealous boyfriend.

Apparently, though, the god worshiped in Middle Tennessee has such an inferiority complex that those big fuckin' letters need to be seen no matter what side of the building the invisible sky wizard happens to be on. The Rude Pundit imagines a pissy deity floating over to the back door of the halls of justice, looking up, and nodding with satisfaction. "That's me they're talkin' about," he'd say to passerby. And he'd let Cookeville survive for another day.

And still do nothing about the meth and the poverty and the ignorance and...
Hillary Clinton's "What the Fuck, Rand Paul?" Face Will Make Your Day:


That's about-to-be-former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton up there, wondering what kind of bananas shit Sen. Rand Paul is crapping out of his mouth. "Really? Do you know what the fuck you're talking about?" is what that face says, and, indeed, as befits a man who looks like he jacks off while listening to cassette audiobooks of Carlos Castaneda and watching donkey porn, Paul was talking about one of the many right-wing nutzoid conspiracy theories about the "truth" about the murder of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya.

Paul asked, "Is the U.S. involved with any procuring of weapons, transfer of weapons, buying, selling, anyhow transferring weapons to Turkey out of Libya?" You don't want to know what the fuck he was talking about - something, something, something, arms to Syria, ambassador killed over it - because it's utter bullshit.

Of course, rather than saying "What the fuck now?" Clinton smirked at the question and then looked at Paul as if he had been fondling himself during his questioning and while earlier bragging about how he would have fired Clinton if he had been president, which he won't be, ever in the history of forever. "Nobody's ever raised that with me," she said to the unsatisfied dink from Kentucky. When Paul pressed her, she just said, "I do not know. I don't have any information on that."

Yeah, it was actually a banner day for Clinton, taking on the bellicose preeners and poseurs of the GOP. She was so strong against an obdurate opposition that was determined to find something, anything, to justify their narrative that Benghazi was a scandal worth more than a thorough investigation and some readjustment of security, that it had to point to institutional incompetence, if not outright deception. It reeked of the stink of projection, of people who hadn't questioned much after 9/11 trying to compensate now.

So, apparently, to Republicans, what one says on a Sunday talk show is the same as testimony under oath.  It's certainly the way they treated the things U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice said on the gabfest after the attack. And when Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin tried to get her to admit that the administration screwed up on getting the "facts" out about Benghazi, Clinton hit him so hard that he was practically out of breath after her answer.

Emotionally, the smackdown of Johnson was the highlight. But check out what she said to John McCain. The Senate's nastiest leprechaun was a-puffin' away on his tiny pipe as he accused Clinton and the administration of providing "false answers" and not providing enough security to the consulate. The short version of Clinton's answer was "Suck it, old man."

The longer answer: "I will also tell you that since March 2011, Congressional holds have been placed on programs for many months for aid to Libya. We've had frequent Congressional complaints. 'Why are we doing anything for Libya? It's a wealthy country. It has oil.' Disagreement from some sources that we should never have been part of any U.N. mission in Libya. Currently, the House has holds on bilateral security assistance, on other kinds of support for anti- terrorism assistance." Yeah, talk to your buddies in the House Majority, motherfucker.

Man, Clinton must have spent the rest of the afternoon wiping bits of ass off her shoes.

WellPoint Inc q4 earnings report today

best insurance stock - WellPoint Inc q4 earnings report today, WellPoint net profit report today january 23 2012 : WellPoint Inc q4 earnings reported today WellPoint Inc reported a higher-than-expected fourth-quarter profit on Wednesday as it kept medical costs down, but the second-largest U.S. health insurer said it was taking a "prudent" view of 2013 in the face of industry reform.

WellPoint, which sells private health insurance to businesses and individuals and also provides government insurance for the elderly and the poor, is preparing for a round of changes resulting from the U.S. Affordable Care Act.

Later this year, states and the federal government will begin selling health insurance on exchanges for 2014, and new insurance taxes are on the way. Pressure on prices for medical services is also a concern for insurers.

WellPoint said that given the "fluid and dynamic" market over the next 18 to 24 months, it expected a 2013 net profit of at least $7.60 per share, including the costs of integrating its recent acquisition of smaller competitor Amerigroup.

Analysts on average have been expecting $7.98 a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. It was not immediately clear if the two numbers are comparable.

"It's lighter than we thought, but it's also including Amerigroup's integration costs," Leerink Swann analyst Jason Gurda said, so it was not clear that investors would be disappointed by the outlook.

Shares of WellPoint were down 0.4 percent at $63.54 in early trading.

Management changes might be behind the conservative forecast, Gurda said. WellPoint is being run by an interim chief executive officer, John Cannon, who took over following the abrupt resignation of Angela Braly in August.

Chief Financial Officer Wayne DeVeydt told analysts on a conference call on Wednesday that the company still expected to name a new CEO this quarter.

He said the 2013 outlook included 20 cents to 25 cents a share in Amerigroup-related costs and $300 million in additional investments such as preparation for the health insurance exchanges.

Besides healthcare reform and broad-based cuts in government medical payments, areas of uncertainty for this year include the costs of the flu as more members visit the doctor and overall use of medical services, DeVeydt said.

TAXES BOOST PROFIT

The company said that fourth-quarter net profit had risen to $464.2 million, or $1.51 per share, helped by an income tax settlement and investment gains.

WellPoint, which included Amerigroup figures in its earnings report for the first time, said it had 36.1 million members as of Dec. 31, up 5.5 percent from a year earlier.

It said it expected membership to drop in 2013 to a range of 35.3 million to 35.5 million.

Excluding the tax settlement, investment gains and other special items, the company said earnings had increased to $1.03 per share from 99 cents a year earlier.

On that basis, analysts on average had been expecting a profit of 95 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

WellPoint said that lower-than-anticipated medical costs in its private insurance business, stable membership numbers and strong operating cash flow helped earnings during the quarter. It said its fourth-quarter tax rate had been abnormally low because of the settlement with the Internal Revenue Service.

Revenue for the quarter rose to $15.27 billion from $15.18 billion a year earlier.

WellPoint's results followed those of the larger rival UnitedHealth Group Inc, which last week reported a slight drop in net income and said the next two years had the potential for growth and opportunity.

Copyright 2010 by Reuters. All rights reserved.

Details of IRB Re-Insurance Co Privatization

Best Insurance stock - Details of IRB Re-Insurance Co Privatization  : The Brazilian government's National Development Bank, or BNDES, on Wednesday released details of its planned privatization of re-insurance company IRB-Brasil Re, based on an initial public offering of shares.

The privatization process will take place via an increase in IRB's capital. The BNDES set the price of each new share at 2,577 Brazilian reais ($1,263). The government authorized a capital increase of between 2% and 15% for IRB.

Brazil's largest banks, including state-run banks Banco do Brasil SA (BBAS3.BR) and Caixa Economica Federal, and private-sector peers Banco Bradesco SA (BBD) and Banco Itau Unibanco SA (ITUB), will almost certainly gain day-to-day control of IRB after the privatization, according to analysts. IRB has a 40% market share in the re-insurance industry in Brazil.

The federal government, meanwhile, will hold a golden share in IRB. With the golden share, the government will keep a veto power over all key decisions, such as any eventual sale of control.

Currently, the government has a stake of 50% in IRB, while Bradesco has a 21% stake, Itau Unibanco holds a 15% stake and other small insurance companies a 14% stake.

The government said that it won't participate in the capital increase, paving the way for banks to increase their stake in IRB. IRB employees will be allowed to participate in the capital increase, along with the major banks.

"The process will provide IRB better conditions to compete in the re-insurance market, considering the new regulatory environment in which the IRB no longer enjoys exclusive rights over re-insurance," the BNDES said in its statement.

IRB, created in 1939, operated as Brazil's sole re-insurer until 2008, when the government opened the local re-insurance market to private competitors.

Under the rules, the government said IRB will have a period of five years in which to list the company's shares. If the shares aren't listed by the end of that period, then the company's controllers will be obliged to buy back any and all shares acquired by employees. Employees can reserve IRB shares from Feb. 4 to Feb. 14.
Louisiana's Jindal to Abused Women and the Dying: Drop Dead:
When you live in Louisiana, you get used to a certain amount of Neanderthal savagery and brute stupidity. Sure, the education system is getting fucked beyond fucked and the state legislature thinks it's just jim-fuckin' dandy to teach that everything was created when an invisible sky wizard puked it all out, but, hey, how about that food? Sure, sex education is pretty much non-existent in a state where they have the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation, but, man, ain't that band playin' some hot zydeco? See? It's a trade-off. A state with a high sales tax, including taxes on food and clothing, lottery, and gambling, along with a state income tax, can't stay out of the red because tax cuts for rich people are so fucking important, so why not raise the sales tax even higher? It's what you get for wanting to laissez les bon temps rouler.

Other than teachers (who are really just terrorists with tenure, but, gosh, shouldn't they be armed?) protesting the shifting of public school funds to private ones run by churches and cults, there's been no real outcry against Governor Bobby Jindal and his merry band of GOP scum weasels in the legislature. But now, with the frightening possibility of having their sick people die without palliative or other care, Louisianians are genuinely shocked to finally discover that Jindal is a weak-chinned shitsack who has no business running a state, let along trying to squeeze himself onto the national stage like the last dingleberry in the Republican sphincter.

Yep, at the end of the month, next week, in fact, the state of Louisiana will stop offering hospice care to adult patients on Medicaid. Why? Because fuck you, brain aneurysm guy, that's why. Budget cuts, bitch. It'll save $3 million bucks this year, maybe even $8.3 million next year. The budget's short $900 million bucks. Gotta find change under the cushions if we have to. Well, it'll save that money barring dying people going in and out of emergency rooms in order to get some relief. Yeah, see, Arizona, always on the leading edge of fuckery in America, tried to do the same thing. That state learned that it cost more to be assholes than to give a damn.

Of course, Jindal already cut funding for charity hospitals, so, you know, he really, really wants poor people to just die already.

Hospices and hospice care providers are dumbfounded by the cuts. But they just want that Medicaid teat to suck on while they give your mother or sister aid and comfort while she fades away because of ovarian cancer.  But even the mostly right-wing newspapers in the state are finding that there is a point where they can be appalled. "To balance the state's budget by eliminating end-of-life care is inhumane," says the Daily World of Opelousas. " Our most vulnerable citizens — regardless of means — should be afforded the most-basic palliative care by a society that has so much," says the Daily Comet of rural Lafourche Parish.

By the way, Jindal is also cutting funding for women's shelters because "the Jindal administration said the state was moving away from costly residential care for domestic violence victims in favor of short-term hotel stays and family care." You got that? Victims of domestic violence should stay with family where their abusers would never find them, obviously. The funding cut also hits sexual assault centers, too, because compassion costs too much.

Yeah, it's a cruel, cruel life in the Bayou State. But, hey, throw us some more beads, mister.

The Smart Way To Overcome Financial Problems

Financial problems can sometimes lead couples fight. Some marriages end because of financial problems. Financial problems that may occur due to the husband or wife who is not smart to manage the family finances.

In fact, smart managing the family finances is very important that the needs of the present and future can be fulfilled. For that, the husband and wife should be open in managing finances. You and your partner should always discuss all things related to money, such as expenses, income, savings, and so forth.

While discussing this, you and your partner should also make a deal. For example, to determine what percentage of money to be saved, how the budget is used to pay bills, and so forth. If both of these apply in your family life, then the financial problems most likely will not happen.
 
If the family's financial problems have occurred, then immediately overcome with friends. Here's a clever way to overcome the financial problems the family:

1. save
Saving not only can you do at the bank, but also in their own piggy bank. You can provide a small savings in the home that can be filled every week. It may sound trivial, but it will be worthwhile for you and your partner at a later time. Unconsciously, the money would be collected so it is very useful if it is necessary.

2. aside money
Do not forget to set aside money each month. Money that you can use to have fun with your family, such as a vacation to the sights, go to a restaurant to eat dinner together, watch a movie, and so forth. However, not a lot of money aside each month so as not to be wasteful.
 
3. Make a realistic budget
Creating a realistic budget is important in order to avoid financial problems in the family. Make sure your budget is realistic and can be implemented well. Do not make budget too little until you have to scrimp and lack of enjoyment of life, and vice versa.

AIG insurance stock rating overweight by Evercore Partners

AIG insurance stock rating
Best Insurance stock - AIG insurance stock rating overweight by Evercore Partners : American International Group (NYSE: AIG)‘s stock had its “overweight” rating restated by analysts at Evercore Partners in a research report issued to clients and investors on Tuesday. They currently have a $40.00 price target on the stock.


Other equities research analysts have also recently issued reports about the stock. Analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein reiterated an “outperform” rating on shares of American International Group in a research note to investors on Wednesday, January 16th. They now have a $45.00 price target on the stock. Separately, analysts at FBR Capital initiated coverage on shares of American International Group in a research note to investors on Thursday, January 10th. They set an “outperform” rating and a $44.00 price target on the stock. Finally, analysts at Wells Fargo downgraded shares of American International Group from an “outperform” rating to a “market perform” rating in a research note to investors on Thursday, January 10th.

Twelve research analysts have rated the stock with a buy rating, one has issued an overweight rating, and nine have issued a hold rating to the company. The stock has a consensus rating of “overweight” and an average target price of $40.43.

American International Group traded up 1.11% on Tuesday, hitting $35.48. American International Group has a 1-year low of $24.66 and a 1-year high of $37.67. The stock’s 50-day moving average is currently $34.89. The company has a market cap of $52.379 billion and a price-to-earnings ratio of 2.42.

American International Group last issued its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, November 1st. The company reported $1.00 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the analysts’ consensus estimate of $0.88 by $0.12. Analysts expect that American International Group will post $3.77 EPS for the current fiscal year.

American International Group, Inc. (AIG) is an international insurance company, serving customers in more than 130 countries.

Bankinter SA stock ratings prices target by Nomura

best insurance stock - Bankinter SA stock ratings by Nomura : Nomura reiterated their reduce rating on shares of Bankinter SA (MCE: BKT) in a research report sent to investors on Tuesday morning. The firm currently has a $3.73 (€3) price target on the stock.


Other equities research analysts have also recently issued reports about the stock. Analysts at Macquarie reiterated an underperform rating on shares of Bankinter SA in a research note to investors on Wednesday, January 16th. They now have a $3.60 price target on the stock. Separately, analysts at Exane BNP Paribas reiterated an underperform rating on shares of Bankinter SA in a research note to investors on Tuesday, January 15th. They now have a $2.80 price target on the stock. Finally, analysts at Societe Generale reiterated a sell rating on shares of Bankinter SA in a research note to investors on Wednesday, January 9th. They now have a $3.68 price target on the stock.

The stock’s 50-day moving average is currently €N.

Bankinter SA is a Spain-based financial institution primarily engaged in the banking sector. The Bank offers a range services and products, such as current accounts, fixed-term deposits, investment funds and retirement plans, mortgages, insurance policies; as well as other banking operations to businesses and individuals.

QBE Insurance stock prices target by Credit Suisse

QBE Insurance stock rating prices target
Best insurance stocks - QBE Insurance stock rating prices target by Credit Suisse : Credit Suisse reissued their outperform rating on shares of QBE Insurance Group Limited (ASX: QBE) in a research report released on Tuesday morning. Credit Suisse currently has a $13.79 (13 AUD) price target on the stock.


QBE has been the subject of a number of other recent research reports. Analysts at Macquarie reiterated a neutral rating on shares of QBE Insurance Group Limited in a research note to investors on Tuesday, January 15th. They now have a $13.44 price target on the stock. Separately, analysts at Nomura reiterated a buy rating on shares of QBE Insurance Group Limited in a research note to investors on Thursday, January 10th. They now have a $14.74 price target on the stock. Finally, analysts at CIMB reiterated a neutral rating on shares of QBE Insurance Group Limited in a research note to investors on Wednesday, December 12th. They now have a $12.73 price target on the stock.

Shares of QBE Insurance Group Limited traded down 2.55% during mid-day trading on Tuesday, hitting A$11.830. QBE Insurance Group Limited has a one year low of A$9.880 and a one year high of A$15.150. The stock’s 50-day moving average is currently A$13.12. The company has a market cap of A$13.936 billion and a P/E ratio of 18.28.

QBE Insurance Group Limited
is engaged in underwriting general insurance and reinsurance risks, management of Lloyd’s syndicates and investment management.

Travelers insurance earnings surpassing the Zacks Consensus

Best Insurance stock - Travelers insurance earnings surpassing the Zacks Consensus : The Travelers Companies, Inc. (TRV - Analyst Report) reported earnings of 72 cents per share in the fourth quarter of 2012, surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 4 cents per share. However, results plunged 51% from $1.48 earned in the year-ago quarter. Operating income of $278 million dipped 54% the reported quarter.

The year-over-year downside was largely attributable to higher catastrophe losses mostly due to Hurricane Sandy. However, higher underlying underwriting margins and higher net favorable prior-year reserve development limited the downside to some extent.

Cat loss in the quarter was $689 million or $1.78 per share. Including net realized investment gains of $26 million or 6 cents per share, the company reported net income of $304 million or 78 cents per share, comparing unfavorably with net income of $618 million or $1.51 a share. The year-ago quarter included net realized investment gains of $9 million.

Operational Update
Net written premiums during the quarter were $5.4 billion, up 2% year over year.

Net investment income increased 5.7% year over year to $689 million during the quarter, largely attributable to better performance at non-fixed income portfolio, partly muted by reduction in fixed income returns.

Travelers posted underwriting loss of $338 million, comparing unfavorably with profit of $187 million in the year-ago quarter. Combined ratio deteriorated 950 basis points year over year to 105.4% in the reported quarter. The deterioration was due to higher catastrophe losses, partially muted by higher underwriting margins and higher net favorable prior-year reserve development.

Total revenue in the quarter under review was $6.5 billion, increasing 2% year over year, driven by the augmentation in premiums earned and net investment income. Revenues surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $6.3 billion.

Full Year Highlights
Operating earnings of $6.21 per share outpaced the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $5.56 and year ago earnings of $3.28. The upside stemmed from a combination of lower catastrophe losses, higher underwriting margins and higher net favorable prior-year reserve development

Including net realized investment gains of 9 cents, the company reported net income of $6.30 per share, surging from $3.36 a share earned in 2011.

Total revenue increased 1% year over year to $25.7 billion. It also outperformed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $25.2 billion.

Underwriting gains of $296 million reversed the year-ago loss of $745 million. Combined ratio improved 800 basis points.

Segment Update
Business Insurance: Net written premium increased 6% year over year to $2.78 billion in the quarter, largely driven by increases in renewal rate change.

The combined ratio deteriorated 770 basis points year over year to 103.5%, mainly due to higher catastrophe losses.

Operating income slid 27% year over year to $326 million in the fourth quarter of 2012, primarily attributable to higher catastrophe losses.

Financial, Professional & International Insurance: Net written premium in the quarter under review improved 2% year over year to $808 million, driven by a 6% increase in net written premiums in the International business.

The combined ratio deteriorated 100 basis points year over year to 80.2% in fourth quarter 2012, attributable to higher catastrophe losses.

Operating income descended 13.8% year over year to $131 million, attributable to higher catastrophe losses, partly offset by higher underlying underwriting margins

Personal Insurance: Net written premium skidded 3% year over year to $1.79 billion, primarily due to lower new business volumes.

The combined ratio deteriorated 1540 basis points year over year to 89.7% in the fourth quarter of 2012, largely driven by higher catastrophe losses.

Operating loss of $114 million compared unfavorably with profit of $77 million in the year-ago quarter largely due to higher catastrophe loss. However, higher underlying underwriting margins and higher net favorable prior-year reserve development limited the downfall.

Dividend and Share Repurchase
Travelers spent $400 million to buyback 5.4 million shares in the quarter, taking the tally to $1.45 billion spent to buyback 22.4 million shares in 2012. The company is still left with $2.159 billion remaining under its authorization.

The company also paid $178 million in dividends. Additionally, the board approved a quarterly dividend of 46 cents, payable Mar 29, 2013, to the shareholders of record as of Mar 8, 2013.

Our Take
Travelers continues with the trend of delivering positive earnings surprise.

Though its exposure to cat loss weighs on the results, prudent underwriting practices and favorable prior-year reserve development managed to limit the adverse affect.

High retention rate, pricing gains, positive renewal rate changes, and a strong capital position are among the other positives, which are likely to support Travelers perform better going forward.

Travelers’ continuous share buyback strategy has a positive impact on earnings per share and also bolsters shareholder value.

Further, Travelers recently increased its stake in J. Malucelli ParticipaƧƵes em Seguros e Resseguros S.A., a market leader in the surety insurance business in Brazil. Further, it made some useful investments to augment its technology platform. It scores strongly with the rating agencies as well.

source -  Zacks.com

Travelers stock prices rally today

Best Insurance Stock - Travelers stock prices rally today : Shares of Travelers Cos. rallied on Tuesday after the insurance company reported quarterly earnings that exceeded Wall Street’s expectations.

The Financial Select Sector SPDR Fund XLF +0.41% , which tracks the performance of financial stocks in the S&P 500 SPX -0.28% , traded marginally higher in midmorning trade.   The broader U.S. stock market declined after data showed a decline in sales of existing homes in December. The S&P 500 slipped 0.3% to 1,481.

Travelers TRV +2.63%  was the top gainer among S&P 500 financial stocks and the biggest gainer in the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA +0.12% , with its shares up nearly 3%. The insurer said its fourth-quarter profit slumped 51% as it racked up millions in claims from Hurricane Sandy, which hit the Northeastern U.S. in November. Still, the results were better than expected. See: Travelers fourth-quarter profit down 51% after Sandy. Another insurer, Allstate Corp. ALL +1.76% , gained 1.8%.

State Street Corp. STT +3.36%  shares rose 2.6% after the investment manager was upgraded to neutral from underweight at J.P. Morgan Chase, which said that the company’s new cost-savings program is expected to offset its lower net interest margin, In the banking sector, shares of Regions Financial Corp. RF +4.58%  rose 1.5% after the lender swung to a fourth-quarter profit, source : http://www.marketwatch.com
Obama to America: Now Is the Time to Stop Being Such Unapologetic Dicks:
Yesterday, President Barack Obama used his second inaugural address not merely to appeal to the better angels of Americans. No, he was more explicit. In essence, instead of conjuring the spirit of bipartisanship and unity, he said that it was time we all stop acting like such dicks, that we needed to toss the dicks and douchebags aside and get some shit done.

In one of the first lines of the speech, Obama told us who the biggest dicks among us are: "The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob. They gave to us a republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed." Now, putting aside that, yeah, a good many of the patriots of 1776 did kind of envision rule by white male landowners, what Obama was clearly doing was jabbing his finger in the eyes of both the wealthy oligarchy-mongers, like the Kochs, and the Tea Party, whose numbers are dwindling, but who have enough pitchforks and torches to fuck up the joint for the rest of us.

Obama's second inaugural was, as many in the commentariat have pointed out, one of the most genuinely liberal speeches he has given, with enough in there to make conservatives shit blood while progressives taste a moment of victory. The President offered a critique of the driving philosophy of modern conservatism, the isolationist individualism offered by the GOP. "[F]idelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action," Obama said. In other words, understand the government is the people, not the enemy of the people, and it's time to start acting like the federal government ain't the problem. It's the idiots who believe it is who are. "While the means will change, our purpose endures," he said, "a nation that rewards the effort and determination of every single American."

And the way to secure that, truly, is through the support of the very government that the conservatives scorn. Obama drew clear lines between the progress of the nation and progressivism. Indeed, the history he laid out was one where America advances only through the achievements of liberalism. In a final "Fuck you" to Mitt Romney and his crass critique of the poor as craven materialists, Obama said, "The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, these things do not sap our initiative, they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great."

More importantly, when Obama said, "We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths –- that all of us are created equal –- is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall," it wasn't just that he was giving a shout-out to rights for women, blacks, and gays. It was that he was approving of the radical action and civil disobedience that are the means through which progress occurs. Yeah, it was awesome that he gave such full-throated support to gay marriage, but don't lose the larger historical meaning: Fuck shit up, if you have to, in order to ensure equality.

Unlike the Obama of 2009, who was caught up in the belief that we could all get along, this 2013 Obama is sick of the right's bullshit. He laid out the current progressive agenda - climate change, voter's rights, gun control, and more - in generic terms, but as part of the larger sweep of the advancement of the nation, the liberalizing of the country that has always kept us moving forward, except when the dicks stick out their stupid feet and try to trip us. And he asked us to work with him again to shove the dicks aside, to shove aside our own latent dickishness, inculcated in us by years of right-wing rhetoric. Let's hope he doesn't abandon us to try to do it all on his own, as he did in much of his first term.

We have a long, long way to go. The Rude Pundit is aware of the drone war that hangs over everything that Obama promises and accomplishes, casting a bloody pall on the presidency, making Obama seem more like LBJ than FDR. He is aware that the Obama administration has gone after some of the dissenters, like Bradley Manning and Aaron Swartz, among others. He is aware that it's all well and good to make the noble goals in the noble speech on the notable occasion.

It is something else entirely to follow through on the vision of a United States that is able to move out of the GOP-induced torpor into one that does something about the problems that afflict us.  The Rude Pundit has said that we are a nation of selfish assholes, a distinctly American egotism. That needs to be transformed into national activism in order to leave the joint in better shape than we got it.

Four years ago, the Rude Pundit was in DC, in the Arctic chill with a couple of million people, listening to the new president. We were younger and drunk with hope. This year, he watched on TV from his warm living room. He saw an older president, but one who seems ready to fight.  Let us hope that his follow through is as good as his punch.
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