By Catherine Seifert Property-casualty stocks are weakening amid CNA Financial's reserve charge. Still, Standard & Poor's is cautiously optimistic towards the sector, in light of an improved commercial lines pricing environment that will tighten further amid CNA Financial's long overdue $2.1 billion reserve boost.
S&P recommends investors stick with high quality names like Saint Paul Cos. (SPC), on which S&P has a 5 STARS (buy) recommendation and Chubb (CB), which S&P ranks as 4 STARS (accumulate).
Also, S&P likes attractive personal lines franchises including Allstate (ALL), which has a 5 STARS ranking and Progressive (PGR), to which S&P gives a 4 STARS ranking.
Other top S&P picks are multiline insurers with exposure to the savings/retirement market, like American International Group (AIG) and Hartford Financial Services (HIG); both are ranked 4 STARS. Seifert is an equity analyst covering insurance stocks for Standard & Poor's