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Bull of the Day: CNA Financial (CNA)

Tracey Ryniec

CNA Financial Corp. (CNA) ended 2019 on a high note and analysts are bullish about 2020. This Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) is expected to grow 2020 earnings by the double digits.

CNA is one of the largest commercial property and casualty insurance companies in the United States. It operates in the US, Canada and Europe and has approximately $45 billion in assets.

Another Beat in the Fourth Quarter

On Feb 10, CNA reported its fourth quarter 2019 results and beat the Zacks Consensus by $0.06.

Earnings were $0.97 compared to the Consensus of $0.91.

The company said that underwriting was strong in the quarter. It's Property & Casualty Operations combined ratio for the fourth quarter was 95.6% and the underlying combined ratio was 94.9%.

Fourth quarter premium rates rose to 7% and gross premiums jumped to 8%.

Full Year Estimates Rise

Given the optimism, it's not surprising that the analysts raised 2020 and 2021 earnings estimates after the report.

The 2020 Zacks Consensus rose to $4.13 from $3.87 in the last month. That's an earnings gain of 15% as CNA made just $3.59 in 2019.

But analysts are also bullish about 2021. The 2021 Zacks Consensus jumped to $4.28 from $3.35 over the same period. That's another 3.6% earnings growth.

Safety in 2020?

CNA's stock has been treading water since 2017.

But in 2020, it's up 3.8%, outperforming the S&P 500.

CNA is attractively priced with a forward P/E of just 11.5.

Investors also get a dividend, currently yielding 3.1%, for their patience.

For investors looking for an insurance play during this volatile time, CNA is one to keep on the short list.

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