he Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. (NYSE:HIG) , one of the nation’s largest financial services and insurance companies, is celebrating its 10-year anniversary as a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange.
The Hartford regained its independence one decade ago, on December 20, 1995, and began trading on the NYSE under the “HIG” symbol after former parent company ITT Corp. ended 25 years of ownership.
Over the last 10 years, The Hartford, which now has a workforce of approximately 30,000 employees worldwide, has produced consistent growth across its businesses, delivering a 16 percent annualized total return to shareholders. Since going public, The Hartford says it has outperformed the Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500 and its peer group averages. Adjusted for a stock split in 1998, The Hartford went public at a price of $24.88 a share and closed Dec. 19 at $85.57, more than tripling in value.
In 1995, when The Hartford regained its independence, it was still primarily known to the public as a property-casualty insurer. Even then, The Hartford’s life operations were quickly gaining in size and strength. Today, The Hartford’s life products are offered both domestically and abroad in markets including Japan, the United Kingdom and Brazil.
Ramani Ayer, chairman, president and CEO of The Hartford since 1997, has spent his entire career with the company. “This milestone is significant because it illustrates The Hartford’s ability to continue delivering on its nearly 200-year-old promise to each of our customers,” Ayer said. “Our ability to sustain profitable growth with disciplined risk management will only further strengthen our position to provide customers with financial stability and trusted service in the years ahead.”
Coincidentally, 170 years ago, The Hartford was put to its first major test as a fire insurance company. On Dec. 16, 1835, much of New York City’s financial district was destroyed by a massive fire, causing an estimated $15 to $26 million in damages (over $350 million today).
Four days later, on Dec. 20, then-Hartford President Eliphalet Terry made a 125-mile sleigh ride in sub-zero temperatures from Hartford to New York City to pay claims on the spot, using his personal estate as collateral.
The 10-year anniversary marks another chapter in The Hartford’s deep history and illustrates the company’s ability to always think ahead. As one of the country’s oldest insurance companies, The Hartford has played a key role in shaping both the insurance industry For example:
* The Hartford has provided financial security to its customers during nearly every major American catastrophe, including the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the September 11 terrorist attack and, most recently, the powerful 2005 hurricane season.
* The Hartford has bonded a number of major construction projects, helping to create many national landmarks, such as the Hoover Dam, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the St. Lawrence Seaway.
* Many notable Americans have insured their assets with The Hartford, including Abraham Lincoln, Dwight Eisenhower, Robert E. Lee and Babe Ruth.
The Hartford’s Stag has become one of the most familiar brands in America. Although the date of its debut as the company’s logo is not known, its oldest recorded use is on the 1861 Hartford policy issued to Abraham Lincoln. In it, a stag (or hart deer) is fording a stream, a natural symbol for a company named The Hartford. By 1875, The Hartford Stag had evolved to resemble the stag from “The Monarch of the Glen,” the enormously popular painting by Sir Edwin Landseer. The company later commissioned a large steel engraving of Landseer’s painting and distributed prints to agencies across the country.
In recent years, The Hartford’s brand has become more prominent than ever through a national advertising campaign in which the iconic stag was brought to life with Hollywood-style special effects. In the spots, the stag can be seen walking among traders across the floor of the New York Stock Exchange or onto a championship basketball court.
The Hartford is now one of the nation’s largest financial services and insurance companies, with 2004 revenues of $22.7 billion. As of September 30, 2005, The Hartford had total assets of $280.5 billion and stockholders’ equity of $15.3 billion.
Source: The Hartford
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