J.P. Morgan Cazenove captures third place for a second straight year, helmed by Michael Huttner, whose knowledge of the sector is incredible, according to one fan. He is always in close contact with the companies he follows and updates his research very often. The group includes four analysts in London and two in Mumbai, and together they report on 48 names. For the year ahead the analysts recommend investors favor Italys largest insurance company, by premiums, Assicurazioni Generali. Managements ongoing program to dispose of nonstrategic assets, says Huttner, will contribute to improved solvency capital and aid in cutting Generalis debt leverage from 37 percent. In general, the researchers are positive on the sector, which advanced 28.7 percent last year, besting the broad market by 10.6 percentage points. They prefer the life insurance segment, moreover, thanks to the finalization of the key factors for required capital in the context of Solvency II, which removes uncertainty on capital; the modest but positive rise in long bond yields [late] in 2013, which improves earnings margins going forward; and the increasing switch to more capital-efficient and higher [return on equity] life products, the team leader explains.
See also Michael Huttner's profile in the 2013 All-Europe Research Team.