So, not trying to hijack the board here, but sold 20% of my NWLI (it had just gotten too big) and moved it into AEGON - AEG.
There are a few cheaper US lifeco's than NWLI like PNX, but PNX has many issues so would stay away.
AEG on the other hand, trades at 40% of book as opposed to NWLI's 56%
AEG has a forward P/E of 8.8, NWLI's trailing is 8.9 (NWLI has no forward P/E)
AEG has a higher dividend yield of 3.6%
AEG's ROE and ROA are less than NWLI's, but that is not a bad thing as it provides scope for improvement which will drive higher earnings and share price. Management is focused on this and, while they recently announced a scale-back in goals, they have a plan to get there
AEG is one of the world's largest insurers. They are based in the Netherlands, but 70% of their business is in the U.S. through their TransAmerica subsidiary. So their success is based largely on the U.S. They did take some money from the Dutch government back in the financial crisis, but paid it back without using it. They are highly rated by all the rating agencies, so no real concerns about claims-paying abilities.
It is fairer to compare them to a larger insurer like a MFC or even a MET than NWLI due to their size and it does trade at a much cheaper P/B and P/S, again showing the potential upside if than can get their profitability back up to industry levels.
The other ironic thought I am having is that buying NWLI in Texas gives global/emerging markets exposure, so buying a European insurer is a good way to get U.S. exposure - perhaps that is another of the reasons they are both trading at low valuations.
I agree that nwli's 2nd quarter report looks very good. It is my largest position so I am pleased.
I did a quick review of PNX and AEG. PNX looks like it hasn't made a profit in the 3 years of financial reports covered by yahoo. That is unacceptable to me. Yahoo doesn't have financial statements for AEG, so I tried to look at them on AEG's web site. It was hard to read and suffered from looking like the muddled European statements I have run into in the past. I am sticking with NWLI because I do not know of a better insurance company.
I agree it is more difficult going overseas to understand financial reports, but I think it is worth making the effort these days. The European and emerging markets are much cheaper than the US, so should have better opportunities. The advantage to Europe is that the economies support rule of law and accounting uses IFRS, which is the global standard and similar to GAAP.
NWLI is still my largest position and should do very well over the next few years. It is probably one of the safest, most undervalued stocks around The big advantage of AEG is that it is somewhat cheaper than NWLI, but also has more shareholder friendly management. The big downside with NWLI is the lack of concern of management for shareholders. It is probably more risky, or I should say, was more risky in the past. Hopefully it is not now. But I also think there is a good chance investors will move it up faster due to it's dividend, etc.