On Mar 5, 2014, shares of
Assured Guaranty Ltd
) touched a new 52-week high of $26.18. The momentum was driven
by solid fourth-quarter and full-year 2013 earnings results. The
one-year return from the stock came in at 38.6%, way ahead of the
S&P's return of 23.4%.
The fourth-quarter earnings figure at Assured Guaranty clocked a
positive surprise beat of 10.6% while the top line exceeded the
Zacks Consensus Estimare by 16.3%. This takes forward the
company's robust earnings performance wherein it delivered
positive earnings surprises in 3 of the last 4 quarters with an
average beat of 22.4%. Year 2013 also marked the fourth
consecutive year with an operating income that exceeded $0.5
billion at the company.
Assured Guaranty's total expenses fell by nearly 27.9% year over
year primarily owing to lower loss expense that plunged 47.2% in
the quarter, largely attributable to decline in U.S. residential
mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) losses. However, higher U.S.
public finance losses were a partial offset.
Assured Guaranty also strengthened its balance sheet. While cash
balance improved 33% at year 2013-end, long-term borrowings edged
With respect to returning value to shareholders, in 2013, the
company spent $264 million to repurchase 12.5 million shares
besides having $400 million remaining under its authorization. In
addition, the board of directors increased its quarterly dividend
by 10%, marking three straight years of dividend hike and
bringing the total increase to 144% since its Nov 2011 dividend
Assured Guaranty presently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some
better-ranked multi-line insurers worth considering include
Old Republic International Corp.
FBL Financial Group Inc
). While AEGON and Old Republic International sport a Zacks Rank
#1 (Strong Buy), FBL Financial carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).
AEGON N V (AEG): Free Stock Analysis Report
ASSURED GUARNTY (AGO): Free Stock Analysis
FBL FINL GRP-A (FFG): Free Stock Analysis
OLD REP INTL (ORI): Free Stock Analysis
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