It Was A Pretty Good Week

The broad market fund was up 85 basis points this week, against a disappointing 25 bp loss for the S&P. My balanced mandates were up 40 basis points, also good. In general, my cyclical and foreign names outperformed.

On the insurance side, Conseco reported that it would be taking some middling charges — the reaction in the stock market was muted. My own estimate of reserve insufficiencies is higher than what they took, so if this cleans it all up, this is a net plus. I’m still waiting to hear back from Conseco IR, so I can’t really tell what is going on yet. From my recent conversation with James Prieur, the CEO, I think the company is on the right track; the only real question is how bad the old long term care [LTC] block is.

Lincoln National increased its buyback today. I appreciate the shareholder-friendly actions of many insurers. Rather than being hyper-competitive, many companies are returning capital in the soft part of the pricing cycle, and that is the right thing to do.