Although shares of
) moved up slightly subsequent to the company's recent endeavor
toward expanding its U.K operations, it failed to retain the
momentum thereafter. On Feb 4, 2014, the company had announced
the buyout of the Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVA) Master
Servicing Platform and other operating assets related with it
from Pamplona Capital Management, LLP (PCM).
The deal, to be closed before mid-2014, conforms to
ProAssurance's business strengthening initiatives in the U.K.,
including the acquisition of U.K. consumer debt since 2012.
IVA is an alternative tool that allows individuals to evade
bankruptcy through a repayment proposal that is presented to
creditors by an insolvency practitioner. For quite some time now,
the U.S. bankruptcy operations of ProAssurance have significantly
contributed to the company's profits.
Now with the acquisition of PMC's assets the company counts to
establish this line of business in U.K. as well, so as to
accentuate overall profits going forward. The acquisition
agreement also entails the recruitment of the IVA management and
analytical team of PCM by ProAssurance. With the help of the
veteran team of PCM, ProAssurance will find it convenient to
cater efficiently to the U.K. consumer base.
ProAssurance boasts a strong cash position that allows it to
undertake inorganic growth initiates like the one mentioned
above. However, the company has been witnessing mounting interest
expenses due to debt issuances for quite some time.
Escalating levels of expenses coupled with intense competition
make us skeptical about any near-term extraordinary performance.
Thus, we caution investors regarding the short-term prospects of
the stock and suggest holding it for the long run. Hence we have
a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) on ProAssurance.
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However, investors interested in the financial services industry
may consider better-ranked stocks like
American Express Co.
Financial Engines, Inc.
Discover Financial Services
). All these stocks carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).