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Ashleigh Rogers  

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  • JG Wentworth: An Interesting Story Whose Ending Relies On One Fundamental Question
       • Nov. 24, 2014 JGW 11 Comments

    Summary

    • JGW continues to be a volatile stock with a compelling story.
    • The fundamental problem appears to be that the business is essentially a counter-cyclical one and the economy is slowly improving.
    • JGW's plans to diversify the business are even more important given that reality.
  • CNO Financial: Positives And Negatives In An Improving Economy
       • Nov. 24, 2014 CNO Comment!

    Summary

    • CNO is facing a new set of challenges as a result of the improving economy.
    • Effectively handling labor issues at the firm will be a critical part of the puzzle for success going forward.
    • The stock is a little rich right now given the issues it faces in my view.
  • Brown & Brown: Boring Makes For A Good Business
       • Nov. 24, 2014 BRO 2 Comments

    Summary

    • BRO's sequence of recent acquisitions has created some risks, but the firm has a long track record of managing integrations.
    • Organic growth has been pretty weak for the firm, so much of the near-term upside relies on successfully integrating and realizing synergies from recent acquisitions.
    • The firm's current earnings are likely artificially depressed due to current competitive conditions.
  • Health Insurance Innovations: How Far Does The Roller Coaster Go?
       • Nov. 21, 2014 HIIQ 1 Comment

    Summary

    • HIIQ continues to be a volatile play on the future of the health insurance markets.
    • The company's recent acquisition of HealthPocket has major implications for its future business model.
    • The stock looks cheap, but short interest is high indicating an on-going battle between bulls and bears.
  • Springleaf Holdings: 20% Upside If OneMain Acquisition Occurs
       • Nov. 21, 2014 LEAF 2 Comments

    Summary

    • Springleaf has a very exciting M&A opportunity coming up in the near future.
    • Citi is looking to shed an asset that would have great synergies with Springleaf.
    • If Springleaf can complete the deal at a reasonable price, I expect upside comparable to what AER saw after the ILFC deal with AIG.
  • Eaton Vance: Finally!
       • Nov. 17, 2014 EV 1 Comment

    Summary

    • Eaton Vance's new ETFs have finally been approved by the SEC and its a big deal.
    • Traditional ETFs have various problems that the firm's new ETFs may help to rectify.
    • But Eaton Vance's opportunity within the ETF space may be bigger than you think.
  • Trustmark: The Story No One Else Is Talking About
       • Nov. 17, 2014 TRMK 2 Comments

    Summary

    • Trustmark's impressive operating performance over the last year has been largely ignored by the markets.
    • The firm has considerable room to keep outperforming on fundamental measures.
    • The changes in the political winds may also add a tailwind for the bank.
  • Molina Healthcare: Slower Upside From Here
       • Nov. 17, 2014 MOH 1 Comment

    Summary

    • Molina Healthcare is flourishing under the new healthcare landscape.
    • While there are some obstacles, the company still has a lot of growth potential albeit at a slower rate.
    • Molina is still worth owning and its worth adding to a position on any dramatic pullbacks.
  • Aspen Insurance Holdings: Rejection Of Endurance May Have Been Too Hasty
       • Nov. 17, 2014 AHL 3 Comments

    Summary

    • The reinsurance space continues to be a difficult market and shows no signs of turning.
    • The capacity glut has made it difficult for AHL management to provide value to shareholders above what ENH offered to pay earlier this year.
    • The merger fight probably put a damper on future industry consolidation for a while.
  • A Whole New Sallie Mae
       • Nov. 10, 2014 SLM 1 Comment

    Summary

    • The Sallie Mae spin-off of Navient has left the core company in a very different market.
    • Sallie Mae is seeing blockbuster loan origination growth and with healthy GOS margins this should be a boon to the bottom line.
    • Macroeconomic factors complicate the analysis on Sallie Mae somewhat, but the stock still looks like a deal at current prices.
  • If You Want Boutique Investment Banking Exposure, Lazard Is The Best Choice
       • Nov. 10, 2014 LAZ Comment!

    Summary

    • Lazard's dual business lines offer it stability from the notoriously volatile M&A cycle.
    • While there will eventually be a strong upturn in the M&A market, it's unclear when that will occur.
    • Despite the M&A uncertainty, Lazard still has a path to reasonable earnings growth going forward.
  • Assurant: A Better Deal Before The Price Snap
       • Nov. 10, 2014 AIZ Comment!

    Summary

    • Assurant is executing well despite the headwinds in healthcare and property insurance business lines.
    • Solutions and Employee Benefits offers the most hope for continued growth going forward.
    • Assurant is not cheap right now, but it is likely to be a steady performer going forward.
  • CBOE Holdings: Still Growing, Still Expensive
       • Nov. 8, 2014 CBOE 2 Comments

    Summary

    • CBOE is one of the last true growth stories in the traditional financial markets space.
    • New products from the firm should help support growth going forward.
    • However, that growth does not come cheap and CBOE investors should be opportunistic when dealing with the stock.
  • Navient Corp: A Good Spin-Off Play In The Student Loan Space
       • Nov. 3, 2014 NAVI 9 Comments

    Summary

    • Things are going well for Navient a few month on from its divestment from Sallie Mae.
    • The general pessimism around the student loans in the US is certainly going to be an on-going headwind though.
    • Navient is an appealing play for investors willing to take a bit of risk in the student loan space.
  • Greenhill: What Has Changed?
       • Nov. 3, 2014 GHL Comment!

    Summary

    • GHL continues to be a relatively expensive stock based on its historical earnings.
    • The long-awaited surge in M&A volumes still has not materialized.
    • Unless GHL takes significant market share and we see a very strong up-turn in M&A, justifying a higher price on the stock is hard.
  • Stonegate Mortgage: What A Disappointment
       • Nov. 3, 2014 SGM Comment!

    Summary

    • Stonegate Mortgage has been a disappointment over the last year.
    • I did not foresee the extreme regulatory pressure the mortgage servicing industry would face.
    • Eventually the industry headwinds will subside, but it could be a choppy sea for the stock until then.
  • Signature Bank: Still Deserving Of A Premium Multiple
       • Nov. 3, 2014 SBNY 2 Comments

    Summary

    • Signature Bank is perhaps the best run bank in the country.
    • Signature Bank's consistent success in beating analyst estimates and growing earnings comes from a few important differentiators.
    • Even at today's levels, it is well worth considering an investment in Signature Bank.
  • Astoria Financial: Waiting On Rates
       • Oct. 27, 2014 AF Comment!

    Summary

    • Astoria Financial is leveraged to the NYC loan market, and seems to be having trouble growing its loan book in the face of heated competition.
    • Credit quality is much improved for the bank, but that in itself is not enough.
    • The stock is probably optimistically valued with shareholders having a lot riding on rate increases in the near future.
  • Westamerica Bancorporation Still Has Further To Fall
       • Oct. 27, 2014 WABC Comment!

    Summary

    • Revenue declines continue for WABC and the stock has had a rough year as a result.
    • While asset quality is sound this is not a substitute for portfolio growth.
    • Investors are best off avoiding WABC for now.
  • Bank Of New York Mellon Corp: Tight Margins, But Good Fee Income And Expense Controls
       • Oct. 27, 2014 BK 2 Comments

    Summary

    • BK's broad collection of businesses are helping to partially shield the firm from interest rate concerns that other banks face.
    • Management is doing well with maximizing fee income and cost containment.
    • Investors seem more concerned about margins though, and as a result the bank is not commanding the premium multiple one might expect.
  • Royal Bank Of Scotland Is Making Progress Slowly
       • Oct. 27, 2014 RBS 3 Comments

    Summary

    • RBS is making progress on its restructuring, but significant work still remains.
    • Asset run-downs, divestitures, and cost cuts are having a noticeable effect on the bank's operations.
    • RBS is still a troubled company, but valuation makes this a compelling long term investment.
  • The Travelers Companies Is Proving Mostly Immune To Correction
       • Oct. 20, 2014 TRV 2 Comments

    Summary

    • TRV's resilience during the general market decline suggests the stock is appealing to a lot of investors right now.
    • The company's position as a cautious underwriter makes a lot of sense right now given the weak margins on most P&C products.
    • While TRV is a great company, comparatively speaking it is not as good a deal as some other insurers which have been hit harder.
  • Allied World Assurance Holdings: Steady As She Goes
       • Oct. 20, 2014 AWH 1 Comment

    Summary

    • AWH has upside if the macro-environment improves.
    • Steady growth in book value for AWH is reassuring and the company continues to perform well.
    • Any significant sell-off in the stock is a good buying opportunity right now.
  • Things Are Better At Barclays But Still Not Back To 'Normal'
       • Oct. 20, 2014 BCS 3 Comments

    Summary

    • The post-Crisis BCS is still a mess and looks like it will be for a while yet.
    • One legal morass after another is holding the bank back even while a weak European economy continues to buffet the bank.
    • BCS is cheap based on its tangible book value, but multiple expansion won't happen for the stock until Wall Street regains its trust in the company.
  • Toronto-Dominion Bank: Falling Stock Price Against A Mixed Economic Backdrop
       • Oct. 20, 2014 TD 5 Comments

    Summary

    • TD is leveraged to the Canadian economy and the health of consumers in both Canada and the US.
    • The firm's limited exposure to investment banking makes it unique among big banks.
    • TD's strategy has relied heavily on takeovers, but it seems to be integrating those acquisitions well.
  • East West Bancorp Still Has Upside
       • Oct. 13, 2014 EWBC 2 Comments

    Summary

    • EWBC's niche continues to serve the company well.
    • Not that merger costs have diminished, I think the company is well positioned going forward especially in the context of a Fed rate hike cycle.
    • Credit quality remains outstanding and that gives me additional confidence in the name.
  • My Terrible Call On Fortress Investment Group
       • Oct. 13, 2014 FIG 15 Comments

    Summary

    • FIG and most of the remaining private equity space has been clobbered by the market of late.
    • There are a number of headwinds working against FIG, but most importantly, investors think we are entering a down-cycle in PE.
    • FIG"s valuation makes the stock attractive despite the weakness YTD.
  • On-Going ING Dissolution Offers Opportunities
       • Oct. 13, 2014 ING 1 Comment

    Summary

    • ING's restructuring following the Financial Crisis is remaking a vast company and offering investors a unique opportunity.
    • Many of the spin-offs from ING will probably go on to be very successful firms in their own right in time.
    • The newly focused ING should be better able to concentrate on making money in its core business - the market is ignoring this so far.
  • Hong Kong Protests Offer An Interesting Opportunity On HSBC
       • Oct. 13, 2014 HSBC 4 Comments

    Summary

    • The Hong Kong Protests represent an interesting opportunity to invest in HSBC.
    • The bank is far less dependent on the City than it once was and the post-Crisis restructuring has made the business much more attractive in my view.
    • At these levels, HSBC looks like a solid buy.
  • Play The Slow Turn In P&C Markets With CNA Financial
       • Oct. 6, 2014 CNA Comment!

    Summary

    • CNA's unique ownership structure leave it under-appreciated by the markets.
    • As the property and casualty insurance markets improve, the company should have significant earnings upside.
    • Present valuations on the stock also look reasonable, with TBV well above current stock price.
  • Deutsche Bank Is A Good Buy If You Believe In Europe
       • Oct. 6, 2014 DB 16 Comments

    Summary

    • Deutsche Bank's massive footprint has made managing the bank tough since the Crisis.
    • The bank is highly leveraged to capital markets especially in the fixed income arena.
    • If Europe starts to recover more strongly the bank could have outstanding upside, if Europe does not recover, downside is limited at current prices.
  • Cincinnati Financial Corp.: Execution Risk And Valuation Have Me On The Sidelines
       • Oct. 6, 2014 CINF 2 Comments

    Summary

    • CINF is a strong competitor in the property and casualty insurance market.
    • This market has been going through a period of cyclical pricing weakness that is only just starting to improve.
    • At present valuations, CINF already incorporates much of this improvement especially with the associated execution risks from the firm's expansion.