I would not call NWLI a big gamble. I consider it one of the safest stocks in the market. How can a stock as cheap as NWLI, with a balance sheet as strong as theirs, and a business as well run as it is go down much further? There is a huge margin of safety here.
The reasons people are selling NWLI are:
1. No yield - buy MET, get a good yield which is going up and also a very cheap stock relative to the market.
2. Management focused on the business not shareholders - again, why own NWLI when MET states they will have 20% of their market cap in excess capital by the end of the year and they are looking for ways to return it to shareholders once they get rid of their bank and out from Fed supervision.
3. Interest rates are low - people perceive this as being bad for insurers and it is, but NWLI has managed it well. Again not as well as MET who bought a bunch of protection for rates.
Plus, I think a lot of people have held the shares for a long time and are just selling out of frustration. Also, a major mutual fund which was holding NWLI has been selling due to redemptions and management change (think they may be done now).
So, with the "Fast Money" world we are living in, it is very cheap, but it is giving all of us the opportunity to acquire shares at cheap prices. I firmly believe if you buy now, 5 years from now, the BV will be close to $500 and the share will be much higher. It does tend to trade up toward BV during a good market. But, I also don't blame people for selling. If I was a hedge fund doing quarterly reports, I'd be selling too and moving to stock like MET. MET pays the dividend and also should double over the next few years, so way easier to explain to investors.