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Weiss Ratings is the nation's leading independent provider of bank, credit union and insurance company financial strength ratings and sovereign debt ratings. WeissRatings.com is a destination site helping consumers and professionals make informed financial decisions.
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  • Weiss Ratings: 10 Best Low-Cost Variable Annuities

    Weiss Ratings: 10 Best Low-Cost Variable Annuities 2014

    JUPITER, Florida (April 10, 2014) - Today, Weiss Ratings released its annual 10 Best Variable Annuity list. To help consumers sort through the many variable annuity choices, Weiss Ratings reviewed over 155,000 annuity offerings to find the 10 best low-cost variable annuity products.

    Weiss Ratings looked for variable annuities with no initial sales charge also known as a front-end load, below average costs, a wide selection of mutual fund subaccounts with good performance, issued by insurance companies with a Weiss Financial Strength Rating of A (excellent), B (good) or C (fair).

    The Best Low-Cost Variable Annuities - 2014

    Variable Annuity

    Name of Insurer

    Front-End LoadSurrender Charge/Years AppliesNumber of FundsNumber of Strong FundsFinancial Strength Rating
    Discover Premier (NYSE:Q) - 0.50

    Pruco Life Insurance Co

    NoneNone3513C+
    Discover Premier (Q) - 0.65

    Pruco Life Insurance

    NoneNone3511C+
    Empire Fidelity Personal Retirement Annuity H

    Empire Fidelity Investments Life Insurance Co.

    NoneNone5946B+
    Fidelity Personal Retirement Annuity H

    Fidelity Investments Life Insurance co

    NoneNone5946A-
    Retirement Advantage

    Allianz Life Ins Co of North America

    NoneNone7857B
    Retirement Pro

    Allianz Life Ins Co of North America

    NoneNone7857B
    TIAA Access 1

    Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America

    NoneNone4725A-
    TIAA Access 2

    Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America

    NoneNone4721A-
    TIAA Access 3

    Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America

    NoneNone4715A-
    Vanguard Variable Annuity

    Monumental Life Insurance Co

    NoneNone1713C+

    Data source: Weiss Ratings. Morningstar Principia Pro 2013 fund data and performance. Weiss Financial Strength rating is based on Q3 2013 data; A=Excellent; B=Good; C=Fair; D=Weak; E=Very Weak; Plus sign=top of grade range; Minus sign=bottom of grade range. Note: List is in alphabetical order.

    Consumers can also find the 2014 Weiss Ratings' lists of Best Variable Annuities with Guaranteed Withdrawal Benefits and Worst Variable Annuities at WeissRatings.com.

    About Weiss Ratings

    Weiss Ratings is the nation's leading independent provider of financial strength ratings on U.S. and global banks, credit unions and insurance companies as well as sovereign debt ratings. It also distributes independent investment ratings on publicly traded companies, mutual funds, and ETFs. Weiss accepts no payment or other compensation for its ratings from rated institutions. WeissRatings.com is a destination site to help consumers and professionals make informed financial decisions.

    Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

    Apr 11 2:02 PM | Link | Comment!
  • Bank Of America (BAC) Hits 52 Week High

    On Thursday, Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) hit its 52-week high at $10.58, more than 115 percent above its 52-week low of $4.92 hit on December 19, 2011. And in trading early today, it continues to climb.

    The Weiss Financial Strength Rating for BofA also improved to C- (Fair) from D+ (Weak) during the year. The upgrade came on the heels of the institution's mid-year (thru June 30) results. And we anticipate that it will again pass its regulatory stress test required by the Dodd-Frank Act in the spring.

    Weiss expects the company to buy back shares or increase its dividend in the near future. Either strategy would be a way for BofA to improve shareholder value.

    Its current dividend yield is 0.38 percent, but we anticipate a return to historical levels of approximately six percent which would increase the quarterly dividend payout from $0.01 per share to about $0.15 per share.

    This paints a pretty good picture for those looking to get in on a bank stock with the likelihood of appreciation over the next year.

    Weiss suggests consumers and professionals keep abreast of financial strength ratings and investment ratings for institutions they invest in or do business with. Access up to 10 financial strength, stock and ETF ratings on WeissWatchdog.com-just register, it's Free!

    See also:
    Weiss Ratings' Portfolio of High-Dividend Bank Stocks
    Bank Stocks Among the Best Performers: 2012 in Review
    U.S. Bank Stock Portfolio II: Flat at -0.58% After One Month

    Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

    Dec 07 2:00 PM | Link | Comment!
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