Is There Value Hiding in AIG?

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In a world seemingly awash with massive business failures, AIG (NYSE: AIG  ) towers over most when it comes to the breadth of its meltdown. The company has sucked up countless billions of government dollars and continues to produce multi-billion losses as it reaps what its financial services division sowed during the credit boom.

Given all of this nastiness, is there any reason for investors to keep an eye on AIG?

Speculators would be quick to jump up and say that AIG has been a marvelous performer -- if you got in at the right time. Though the stock is currently down 95% from its 52-week high and around 97% off from its pre-crash levels, it has skyrocketed over 400% from its March lows of $0.33.

But I'd no sooner recommend chasing after AIG's stock than I'd suggest swimming in shark-infested waters wearing a bacon suit.

It's possible, though, that individual investors could benefit from AIG's distress. In an effort to pay back the government and try to get back on track, AIG has been working with Blackstone's (NYSE: BX  ) investment banking division to sell off some of its yet-healthy divisions. Though many of these divisions -- such as its aircraft leasing division -- will likely end up in the hands of competitors or private equity firms, at least one may end up available on the public markets.

According to a report from Bloomberg, AIG may already be in talks with Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS  ) and other investment banks about doing an IPO for its American International Assurance (AIA) division -- a life insurer that operates in a number of Asian countries, including China and India.

AIA wouldn't be the first Asian life insurer available to investors -- China Life Insurance (NYSE: LFC  ) has already been a big hit -- but it would give investors that are salivating over Asia's growth potential another avenue to invest. As with all IPOs, it's unlikely that the sale will happen at all unless AIG thinks it can get an attractive price -- it has already turned down low offers for the unit from Manulife Financial (NYSE: MFC  ) and Prudential (NYSE: PRU  ) .

So if AIA does hit the public markets, investors will need to make sure that they're getting a fair price. But if the price is right, this could be a great chance to pick up a gem out of AIG's rubble.

Further financial Foolishness:

Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer owns shares of Blackstone but does not own shares of any of the other companies mentioned. You can check out what Matt is keeping an eye on by visiting his CAPS portfolio, or you can follow Matt on Twitter @KoppTheFool. The Fool’s disclosure policy has never once been caught with its pants down. Of course, it doesn't actually wear pants …

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  • Report this Comment On May 22, 2009, at 11:25 AM, catoismymotor wrote:

    I know a couple of people that bought swimming trunks by Hormel. They are quite happy with the returns they have gotten from AIG. I was encouraged to buy in when they did but I bowed out. The idea of buying AIG was as revolting as necrophilia.

  • Report this Comment On May 23, 2009, at 1:06 AM, robstuck wrote:


  • Report this Comment On May 23, 2009, at 1:07 AM, robstuck wrote:

    aig has nowhere to go but up. obama already told us its not going down below 0, and the odds of it staying between zero and 1 'n change is slim to none.

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