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Best Income Stocks for 2013 – Assurant, Inc. (AIZ)

Assurant, Inc. (NYSE: AIZ), a premier provider of specialty insurance and insurance-related products and services, announces that its board of directors has declared a quarterly dividend of $.21 per share of common stock.  The dividend will be payable on March 11, 2013 to stockholders of record as of the close of business on Feb. 25, 2013.

Assurant made the Goldman Sachs “Best Income Stocks” list for 2013.  In a recent note, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. pointed out a number of stocks that could provide some easy money for investors by virtue of what the Wall Street bank calls a “social contract” — a combination of earnings appreciation due to expected share buybacks along with dividend yields.  It could be easy money, provided shares remain stable or rise, for investors looking for as close to a guarantee as equities can offer.

Assurant is projected to increase EPS by 11.6% in 2013, from $5.00 to $5.58.  Trading in the mid-$35 range, it has the highest potential earnings accretion due to share buybacks at 13.8% and a dividend yield of 2.6%, putting its total at 16.4%, according to Goldman.  AIZ has a 5-year average dividend growth rate of 11.8%.  Assurant has an equity summary score of 7.6 out of 10 for a Bullish Outlook.

Target price now is at $45, an increase of 25% from current levels.

AIZ pursues a differentiated strategy of building positions in specialized market segments for insurance products and related services in North America and selected international markets. The markets AIZ targets are generally complex, have a relatively limited number of competitors, and, according to the company, offer attractive profit opportunities. In these markets, AIZ’s strategy is to leverage the experience of its management team and apply its expertise in risk management, underwriting and business-to-business management, as well as its technological capabilities in complex administration and systems.

Assurant Specialty Property recently announced it expects losses from Superstorm Sandy to be in the range of $200 million – $220 million on a pre-tax basis and net of reinsurance.  Based on this estimate, the Company does not expect to exceed the retention limit of its 2012 property catastrophe reinsurance program.

A.M. Best Co. has affirmed the financial strength ratings (FSR) and issuer credit ratings (ICR) of the property/casualty and life/health insurance subsidiaries of Assurant, Inc.   Additionally, A.M. Best has affirmed the ICR of “bbb” and debt ratings of Assurant . The outlook for all ratings is stable.

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