What analysts are saying: Sandy stings insurers

  • Updated: December 8, 2012 - 3:29 PM
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Streets are flooded under the Manhattan Bridge in the Dumbo section of Brooklyn, N.Y., Monday, Oct. 29, 2012. Sandy continued on its path Monday, as the storm forced the shutdown of mass transit, schools and financial markets, sending coastal residents fleeing, and threatening a dangerous mix of high winds and soaking rain.

Photo: Bebeto Matthews, Associated Press - Ap

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Travelers Cos. Inc. has estimated its losses from Hurricane Sandy at $1.14 billion, which translates into $650 million after taxes and re-insurance recoveries.

The loss to New York-based Travelers is smaller than some expected. Mark Dwelle, insurance equity analyst at RBC Capital Markets, thinks Travelers' number -- while large - is reasonable. He told the Star Tribune: "It will rank among their five biggest losses of all time, but it's not a devastating loss. Our estimate is that they're not going to lose money in the fourth quarter; they're just going to sort of break even."

EARLY DIVIDENDS?

Taxpayers could face massive tax increases in January if lawmakers can't agree on tax and spending issues before the end of the year.

In anticipation of the economy running over the "fiscal cliff," more companies are paying dividends to shareholders in advance this year so investors may avoid getting taxed more heavily next year. The San Jose Mercury News quoted analyst Howard Silverblatt, a senior index analyst with the Standard & Poor's, last week saying even more companies would institute early dividend payments.

"We're going to see an avalanche," Silverblatt told the Mercury News. "It's a no-brainer. If I'm a shareholder and you don't do that, you're going to hear from me."

PATRICK KENNEDY

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