Brendan Byrnes: All right. Let's move over to financials, your expertise, Matt. What do you think surprised you, good or bad, in 2012?

Matt Koppenheffer: Actually, to continue on that "left for dead" theme, AIG. Talk about poster child for the financial crisis. This is a company that nobody thought was going to really come back. It got that massive government bailout. I think there were a lot of people that thought it would continue to stumble along.

Then if you just look at the last week, the things that AIG has done -- they sold 80% of their aircraft leasing business, which frees up their balance sheet to a really large extent, and the Treasury announced that they sold their remaining stake in AIG, so AIG is no longer a ward of the state at this point, and that's just the last week.

If you look at the collective strides that AIG has taken since the financial crisis, this is a whole new company. Looking forward, it has the opportunity to show if its core businesses -- the life insurance and the property and casualty insurance that it has -- are still really solid insurers, which we could argue that they were before the financial crisis.

Then combine that with the fact that it's trading at a ridiculously cheap valuation multiple -- this is a company that's surprised me. I didn't think I'd ever like it. I didn't think I could ever like AIG again, and now I'm thinking that I might have to pull the trigger on it.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.