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