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Why is it Apt to Hold XL Group (XL) in Your Portfolio?

Zacks

Shares of XL Group Ltd XL have outperformed the industry year to date. The company has also witnessed estimate revisions over the past 30 days. This Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) insurer remains promising, banking on a number of growth drivers.

An Outperformer: XL Group shares have rallied 19.43% year to date, outperforming the industry’s growth of 9.47%. The shares have also outperformed the S&P 500, which increased 10.61% over the same time frame.

Positive Earnings Surprise History: XL Group has surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate in the last four quarters. The company’s average four-quarter surprise is 14.89%.

Growth Projections: The Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings per share is $3.24 for 2017 which reflects year-over-year growth of 98.57%. For 2018, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings per share is pegged at $3.97, representing year-over-year growth of 22.61%.

XL Group has long-term expected earnings per share growth of 9.0%.

Growth Drivers in Place: XL Group is intensifying focus on its insurance and reinsurance business lines that provide the best return on capital over the pricing cycle. To refine its business mix, XL Group is deploying capital in businesses with lower loss ratios, thereby resulting in margin expansion.

XL Group will be discerning new businesses, emphasizing short-tail lines wherever available in its reinsurance operations, exit other businesses like casualty facultative, not renew certain insurance programs and also continue to reduce long-term agreements (within the insurance operations) in order to reap benefits of improved pricing.

With the acquisition of Catlin Group Limited, XL Group believes, the buyout will help it achieve its expense synergy target of minimum $300 million. The company is also on track to attain non-operating expense savings from reinsurance, purchasing, claims adjustment expenses and investment management fees. Its inorganic growth remains impressive with strategic buyouts that not only expand its international presence but also add capabilities to its compelling portfolio.

XL Group effectively deploys capital. The company engages in share buybacks and has $650 million worth remaining under its authorization as on Jun 30. In 2017, the company expects to complete not less than $700 million shares in buyback program. With respect to dividend hikes, in February, the board approved of a 10% increase in dividend.

Stocks to Consider

Few better-ranked stocks from the insurance industry are Markel Corporation MKL, Mercury General Corporation MCY and Sun Life Financial Inc. SLF, each flaunting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Markel Corporation markets and underwrites specialty insurance products in the United States and internationally. The company has delivered four quarters’ average surprise of 21.06%.

Mercury General provides personal automobile insurance in the United States. The company has delivered a four-quarter average surprise of 1.06%.

Sun Life provides protection and wealth management products and services to individual and group customers globally. The company has delivered a four-quarter average surprise of 10.53%.

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