Reviewing Loews (L) & Hartford Financial Services Group (HIG)

Loews (NYSE: HIG) and Hartford Financial Services Group (NYSE:HIG) are both large-cap finance companies, but which is the superior investment? We will contrast the two businesses based on the strength of their risk, profitability, institutional ownership, earnings, valuation, dividends and analyst recommendations.

Dividends

Loews pays an annual dividend of $0.25 per share and has a dividend yield of 0.5%. Hartford Financial Services Group pays an annual dividend of $1.20 per share and has a dividend yield of 2.4%. Loews pays out 8.7% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. Hartford Financial Services Group pays out 43.8% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. Both companies have healthy payout ratios and should be able to cover their dividend payments with earnings for the next several years. Hartford Financial Services Group has raised its dividend for 5 consecutive years. Hartford Financial Services Group is clearly the better dividend stock, given its higher yield and longer track record of dividend growth.

Analyst Recommendations

This is a summary of recent ratings and price targets for Loews and Hartford Financial Services Group, as provided by MarketBeat.com.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Loews 0 2 1 0 2.33
Hartford Financial Services Group 0 5 4 0 2.44

Loews currently has a consensus price target of $53.57, suggesting a potential upside of 5.07%. Hartford Financial Services Group has a consensus price target of $58.70, suggesting a potential upside of 17.78%. Given Hartford Financial Services Group’s stronger consensus rating and higher probable upside, analysts clearly believe Hartford Financial Services Group is more favorable than Loews.

Profitability

This table compares Loews and Hartford Financial Services Group’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Loews 8.15% 4.11% 1.21%
Hartford Financial Services Group -12.24% 9.84% 0.76%

Institutional & Insider Ownership

62.4% of Loews shares are held by institutional investors. Comparatively, 89.5% of Hartford Financial Services Group shares are held by institutional investors. 12.3% of Loews shares are held by insiders. Comparatively, 1.5% of Hartford Financial Services Group shares are held by insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that hedge funds, endowments and large money managers believe a company is poised for long-term growth.

Earnings and Valuation

This table compares Loews and Hartford Financial Services Group’s revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio Net Income Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Loews $13.74 billion 1.17 $1.16 billion $2.86 17.83
Hartford Financial Services Group $16.97 billion 1.05 -$3.13 billion $2.74 18.19

Loews has higher earnings, but lower revenue than Hartford Financial Services Group. Loews is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than Hartford Financial Services Group, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Risk & Volatility

Loews has a beta of 0.67, indicating that its stock price is 33% less volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Hartford Financial Services Group has a beta of 0.94, indicating that its stock price is 6% less volatile than the S&P 500.

Summary

Hartford Financial Services Group beats Loews on 10 of the 17 factors compared between the two stocks.

About Loews

Loews Corporation, through its subsidiaries, provides commercial property and casualty insurance in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Continental Europe, and Singapore. The company offers management and professional liability insurance and risk management services, and other specialized property and casualty coverages; commercial surety and fidelity bonds; and warranty and alternative risk services primarily for vehicles and cell phones. Its commercial property insurance products include standard and excess property, marine, and boiler and machinery coverages; and casualty insurance products comprise workers' compensation, general and product liability, commercial auto, and umbrella coverages. The company also provides loss-sensitive insurance programs; and risk management, information, and claims administration services. It markets its insurance products and services primarily through independent agents, brokers, and managing general underwriters. In addition, the company owns and operates 17 offshore drilling rigs consisting of 4 drillships; and 7 ultra-deepwater, 4 deepwater, and 2 mid-water semisubmersible rigs. Further, it is involved in the transportation and storage of natural gas and natural gas liquids (NGLs). It owns and operates natural gas pipelines covering approximately 13,880 miles of interconnected pipelines; approximately 455 miles of NGL pipelines in Louisiana and Texas; and underground storage fields with aggregate working gas capacity of approximately 205.0 billion cubic feet of natural gas. Additionally, it operates 24 hotels in the United States and Canada. The company was founded in 1954 and is headquartered in New York, New York.

About Hartford Financial Services Group

The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc., through its subsidiaries, provides insurance and financial services to individual and business customers in the United States. It operates through five segments: Commercial Lines, Personal Lines, Property & Casualty Other Operations, Group Benefits, and Mutual Funds. The Commercial Lines segment offers workers' compensation, property, automobile, marine, livestock, liability, and umbrella insurance products, as well as customized insurance products and risk management services, including professional liability, bond, surety, and specialty casualty coverages. The Personal Lines segment provides automobile, homeowners, and personal umbrella coverages to individuals. The Property & Casualty Other Operations segment provides coverage for asbestos and environmental exposures. The Group Benefits segment provides group life, accident and disability, and other group coverages to members of employer groups, associations, and affinity groups through direct insurance policies; reinsurance to other insurance companies; employer paid coverages and voluntary product coverages; disability underwriting, administration, and claims processing to self-funded employer plans; and a single-company leave management solution. The Mutual Funds segment provides investment products for retail and retirement accounts, as well as exchange-traded products; and investment-management and administrative services, such as product design, implementation, and oversight. The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. was founded in 1810 and is headquartered in Hartford, Connecticut.

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