Will Hartford Financial Rise or Fall From Here?

With half of 2012 in the record books, it's important to take a look at whether the stocks that interest you can live up to their full potential. By making sure you know about a company's future plans and possible challenges, you can make a better decision about whether it's a smart investment for your portfolio.

Today, let's take a look at Hartford Financial (NYSE: HIG  ) . As we saw in our look at Hartford Financial last month, the retailer has rebounded somewhat despite still not being consistently profitable. But Hartford Financial has a chance to take advantage of a competitor's blunder. Will it do so? Let's take a quick look at Hartford Financial's prospects for the rest of the year and beyond.

Stats on Hartford Financial

Average Stock Price Target $25.54
2012 EPS Estimate $3.64
2013 EPS Estimate $3.63
2012 Sales Growth Estimate 16.7%
2013 Sales Growth Estimate (10.3%)
CAPS Rating (out of 5) ***

Source: Yahoo Finance.

How will Hartford Financial do the rest of the year?
Like many insurance companies, Hartford had a subpar 2011. But so far this year, the insurance company at least hasn't had quite as bad a loss experience. For the second quarter, Hartford expects catastrophe losses of $280 million-$300 million, down from $447 million in 2011's second quarter. That's consistent with what fellow insurer Cincinnati Financial (Nasdaq: CINF  ) announced yesterday, as fewer bad storms hit the nation this year.

Still, the same low interest rate environment that has led Genworth Financial (NYSE: GNW  ) , MetLife (NYSE: MET  ) , and Prudential (NYSE: PRU  ) to take some dramatic steps to avoid losses in unprofitable lines of business shows no signs of abating anytime soon. Like its peers, Hartford can take action to try to offset its lower-than-expected investment returns, but it eventually needs to figure out how to make its portfolio pay off.

To make its way back, Hartford needs to see some favorable trends continue. Stronger pricing in the first quarter helped boost profits, and holding onto those gains could help Hartford's stock bounce back. Moreover, if Hartford can market its insurance products in light of the huge disasters that millions of Americans have suffered in recent years, then it could be an underwriting positive, making the most of the company's losses last year.

Analysts may not be optimistic about Hartford's prospects. The company definitely won't improve on its own, but with some strategic vision, it could benefit greatly from the current conditions in the industry.

Hartford Financial has some upside potential, but we've got some other ideas you might like better. Let me invite you to learn about three smart long-term stock plays in the Fool's latest special report. It's yours for the taking and is absolutely free, but don't miss out -- click here and read it today.

Click here to add Hartford Financial to My Watchlist, which can find all of our Foolish analysis on it and all your other stocks.

Fool contributor Dan Caplinger doesn't own shares of the companies mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (2)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Be the first one to comment on this article.

Compare Brokers

Fool Disclosure

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 1946671, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 10/25/2016 5:32:31 PM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...

Today's Market

updated Moments ago Sponsored by:
DOW 18,169.27 -53.76 -0.30%
S&P 500 2,143.16 -8.17 -0.38%
NASD 5,283.40 -26.43 -0.50%

Create My Watchlist

Go to My Watchlist

You don't seem to be following any stocks yet!

Better investing starts with a watchlist. Now you can create a personalized watchlist and get immediate access to the personalized information you need to make successful investing decisions.

Data delayed up to 5 minutes

Related Tickers

10/25/2016 4:02 PM
HIG $42.71 Down -0.21 -0.49%
Hartford Financial… CAPS Rating: ****
CINF $71.77 Down -0.17 -0.24%
Cincinnati Financi… CAPS Rating: ****
GNW $4.57 Down -0.22 -4.59%
Genworth Financial CAPS Rating: ****
MET $46.29 Down -0.35 -0.75%
MetLife CAPS Rating: *****
PRU $82.89 Down -0.65 -0.78%
Prudential Financi… CAPS Rating: ****