This Stock Could Be the Insurance Your Portfolio Needs
Over the past four months we've witnessed volatility at its worst. In that span, the S&P 500 managed to lose 17% of its value in just three weeks while also putting together one of the wildest October's on record, recording a gain of 14% since Oct 3. Although the volatility index may be dropping, we are in no way out of the woods when it comes to volatility.
With volatility becoming the new norm, it doesn't hurt to take a step back once in a while and find companies that can grind out profits quarter after quarter without sending your heart into arrhythmia every time you check your portfolio -- and I just may have found one.
Hidden deep in the depths of the property and casualty insurance sector is a small-cap "Rock of Gibraltar" known as Meadowbrook Insurance Group (NYS: MIG) . Unlike most P&C insurers, which focus on individual customers, Meadowbrook underwrites workers' compensation, automotive, property, and marine policies for commercial customers.
Although I've had Meadowbrook planted on my watchlist for years, I'm pretty convinced not many out there have heard of this small-cap gem of an insurer. The first thing that caught my eye years ago, and continues to do so, is the company's ability to keep the bottom line moving in the right direction. Over the last decade, revenue and operating income have increased in all but one year, and since 2003, Meadowbrook has approximately doubled its book value per share.
Meadowbrook also just happens to have reported earnings last night, giving us a firsthand look at the health of the company; not surprisingly, things look fine. Outside of unusually high storm-charge write-off's during the quarter, Meadowbrook delivered an impressive 19% jump in its gross written premium and increased book value per share by nearly 11%. However, it should be noted that most of this gain in written premium was related to conversion of an existing fee-based program into an insured program late last year.
Over the past five years, Meadowbrook easily ranks among the 10 fastest growers in the P&C sector. Only my Small Cap to Rule Them All pick, Tower Group (NAS: TWGP) , Erie Indemnity (NAS: ERIE) , AmTrust Financial Services (NAS: AFSI) , and Assured Guaranty (NYS: AGO) have offered a faster sales growth rate since 2006. And of the four ahead of Meadowbrook, two (Erie Indemnity and Assured Guaranty) have seen their earnings contract. Suffice it to say, Meadowbrook is in rarified growth territory.
Perhaps the selling point behind Meadowbrook's growth strategy is not forgetting the little guy. Not only is Meadowbrook currently trading below book value, but the company increased its quarterly dividend for the third time in three years. The new projected yield based on yesterday's close is 1.9%. Meadowbrook also repurchased 1.8 million shares during the third quarter, bringing its total share repurchases to 2.2 million year-to-date. Its board also authorized repurchasing up to 5 million additional shares.
Meadowbrook is a relatively obscure small-cap company, but it could be just the insurance your portfolio needs in volatile times. With Meadowbrook, you get the growth of a small-cap company and the stability of a growing dividend complete with share buybacks.
Interested in more info on Meadowbrook? Get started by adding it to your free and personalized watchlist. I also invite you to grab your free copy of our latest report, "Secure Your Future With 11 Rock-Solid Dividend Stocks." Inside this report you'll find stock ideas that could be the key to your successful retirement.
At the time this article was published Fool contributor Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. Although he has a clean driving record, he's a menace on the roads. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong and on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong. The Motley Fool owns shares of AmTrust Financial Services. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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