UPDATE 1-RESEARCH ALERT-Goldman cuts Markel, upgrades Aspen

lunes 12 de mayo de 2008 13:59 CEST

 (Changes source, adds details)
 May 12 (Reuters) - Goldman Sachs changed its ratings on
several U.S. property and casualty insurers, and said investors
will continue to avoid costly stocks in the face of weakening
fundamentals and only buy those trading at a discount to the
 The brokerage, which said valuation drives investment in
the insurance space, downgraded Markel Corp (MKL.N: Cotización) and
Transatlantic Holdings Inc TRH.N to "sell" from "neutral" as
it saw better opportunities within the reinsurance segment for
higher-return, lower-valuation stocks.
 Goldman also cut HCC Insurance Holdings Inc HCC.N to
"neutral" from "buy" on concerns over the company's
professional liability and exposure to the subprime fallout.
 However, the brokerage added Aspen Insurance Holdings Ltd
(AHL.N: Cotización) to its Americas investment buy list and upgraded the
stock to "buy" from "neutral," and said the market is severely
undervaluing Aspen's outlook for at least the next two years.
 Aspen's valuation is more reflective of a pure-play
property catastrophe writer instead of the solidly diversified,
international reinsurer into which the company has evolved over
the past two years, Goldman added.
 Goldman also raised Marsh & McLennan Cos (MMC.N: Cotización) to
"neutral" from "sell," and said the company's first-quarter
earnings proved that brokerage margins may be improving and the
slowing economy may not hurt consulting revenues as much as
previously thought.
 The brokerage also changed its price targets on the
following stocks: STOCK                       PRICE TARGET
                         NEW      OLD Aspen                 
  $30      $34 Marsh & McLennan            $30      $24 HCC
Insurance               $28      $32 Markel                    
$460     $563 Transatlantic               $70      $73 CNA
Financial Corp (CNA.N: Cotización)  $31      $30 Endurance Specialty       
 $40      $48 Holdings Ltd (ENH.N: Cotización) Validus Holdings Ltd (VR.N: Cotización)
$25      $33
 (Reporting by Aditi Samajpati in Bangalore; Editing by Pratish