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Markel (MKL) Expands in France, Opens New Branch Office

Markel Corporation MKL opened a branch office in Paris to serve the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in France in a better way. This endeavor is also in tandem with this Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) insurer’s strategy to expand in global key specialty insurance markets.

Markel will offer three core product lines — professional indemnity, cyber risk, and directors and officers liability — customized for France-based SMEs.

Franziska Geier, Markel’s country manager, and Laura Tinturier, underwriting director stated, “At Markel, we've learned that success in new markets hinges on our ability to tailor our expertise and offerings to the unique local needs of our customers and brokers.” Thus, the insurer will partner with regional independent brokers to provide these specialty products and drive growth by leveraging local broker relationships.

The company expects this recent effort to be as successful as its earlier endeavors. Markel's operations in Spain (established in 2005), in the Netherlands (established in 2011), and in Germany (established in 2013) combined have increased its turnover by $150 million.

Markel envisions doubling the size of its insurance operations and thus targets $10 billion of annual insurance premiums in five years. Subsequently, this should lead to $1 billion of annual underwriting profit. The company expects to achieve this goal primarily through organic growth of its existing operations. Thus, strategic endeavors like the recent ones support strong growth in new business. These coupled with ongoing favorable pricing trends across most product lines should help its reach its target.

Moreover, Markel boasts a solid balance sheet with rising liquidity. This helps it invest in organic growth initiatives for its insurance business.

Shares of Markel have gained 19.4% year to date, outperforming the industry's increase of 16.1%. Its niche focus, improved pricing, effective management of insurance risk, and focus on developing and maintaining underwriting as well as pricing guidelines should drive growth.

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Other Stocks to Consider

Some other top-ranked stocks in the same space include American Financial Group AFG, Cincinnati FinancialCorporation CINF, and Everest Re Group RE, all sporting a Zacks Rank #1. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.
American Financial Group delivered an earnings surprise of 45.73% in the last reported quarter.

Cincinnati Financial delivered an earnings surprise of 80.81% in the last reported quarter.

Everest Re Group delivered an earnings surprise of 62.56% in the last reported quarter.


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