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The Hanover Insurance Group, Inc., based in Worcester, Massachusetts, is one of the oldest continuous businesses in the United States, still operating within its original industry. It was the original name of a property-liability insurance firm born in 1852, and it remained a publicly traded company under that name until the early 1990s, when it changed its name to Allmerica Property & Casualty Companies.
In 1996 it spun off Allmerica Financial Corporation as a property and casualty insurance and financial services holding company, which then bought out the original firm, and grew to become one of the 500 largest publicly traded companies of the United States. In 2005, Allmerica Financial Corporation reverted its name back to Hanover.
Though remaining a relatively small company over the next 1¼ centuries, Hanover's stock performed extremely well through the malaise of the 1970s, as did many small companies during that period. Between 1971 and 1983, Hanover's common stock price, from its low point early within that decade, multiplied in price by over 23 times at its eventual peak. During the late end of that period, in 1981, it split its shares three-for-two. The stock was traded publicly on the Over the Counter (OTC) exchange, as the NASDAQ was still commonly referred to back then.
The rapid growth of the company continued into the mid-1980s, and in 1984 it split again, two-for-one, and by 1985 nearly doubled in price once more, trading then at a high price/earnings ratio of 61. At that time the company was debt-free, and carried a book value of nearly US$330 million. However, by then the company's earnings had fallen to about a third of what they had been in the early 1980s.
In 1987, the company split its stock two-for-one again, and was yet again on its way to another double in price, even as its PE ratio dropped back down to a bargain five times earnings. Those earnings had grown to nearly US$100 million, more than double what the company had earned at the prior peak of 1981. Book value by 1987 stood at US$550 million.
However, by the early 1990s recession, Hanover's earnings had declined once more, to about US$50 million.
Allmerica Property & Casualty Cos
In 1993, earnings reached another peak, up fivefold from the recession years, at over US$250 million. The stock price also reached another multi-year peak that year.
By 1994, Hanover Insurance had changed its name to Allmerica Property & Casualty Companies, Inc., and had moved from the NASDAQ to the New York Stock Exchange, where it traded publicly under the new symbol, APY. The company's rapid growth was back on track, as the company shares again split, three-for-one in 1994. By 1994, book value had doubled from the late 1980s to $US 1.2 billion.
In summer 1995 the stock price climbed above its 1993 peak high, as the economy came out of its soft landing, and PE ratios began their historic late 1990s ascent.
In late 1995, the company spun off Allmerica Financial Corporation, with US$200 million long-term debt assigned to that company, as a new property and casualty insurance and financial services holding company. It held a diversified group of insurance and financial services companies with total assets of $19 billion. Allmerica Financial products included insurance and retirement savings accounts and group benefit programs, mostly variable annuity and variable life products. That company in turn owned about a majority 60% of the original entity, Allmerica Properties & Casualty Companies.
By year end 1995 the new independent holding company (AFC) had a book value of over US$1.4 billion, nearly identical in size to its debt-free predecessor, which remained a majority-owned also a publicly traded subsidiary of AFC.
On October 11, 1995, Allmerica Financial Corporation began to trade on the NYSE, under the new symbol AFC. The initial offering price was $21.00.
By 1997, Allmerica Property & Casualty Companies was among the top 30 property and casualty insurers in the United States, based on net written premiums. By then its regional focus included Michigan as well as its traditional Northeast territory. It operated two primary subsidiaries. One subsidiary, The Hanover Insurance Company, was the company's original business.
And the second subsidiary, Citizens Corporation, was a publicly traded stock which issued personal property and casualty insurance. It had been a dividend-paying public company since 1993. By 1996, Citizens Corporation had shareholders equity of over US$650 million.
On February 20, 1997 Allmerica Property & Casualty Companies, Inc. filed U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Form 8-K, following its announcement on the day before of its intention to be acquired by Allmerica Financial Corporation (AFC). The surviving company, AFC, would acquire the 40.5% of Allmerica P&C that it did not already own, for approximately US$800 million. Shareholders of APC would receive $17.60 in cash and 0.40 shares of AFC. The merger deal was expected to be completed by the third quarter of 1997.
The stock of Allmerica Property & Casualty Companies then ceased to trade, and its old ticker symbol APY was ultimately taken over on the AMEX exchange by Aspyra Inc., a microcap stock with US$20 million market capitalization.
The Hanover Insurance Group
On December 1, 2005, Allmerica Financial Corporation changed its name to The Hanover Insurance Group, Inc. and is the parent company of two divisions, Hanover Insurance and Citizens Insurance. It publicly trades under its new ticker symbol since that time. Those companies serve customers with auto, home and business insurance.
In January 2009, CommonWealth Annuity and Life Insurance Company acquired First Allmerica Life Insurance Company (FAFLIC) from The Hanover Group. FAFLIC includes closed blocks of traditional whole and term life insurance (originally issued by State Mutual Life Assurance Company of Worcester, MA), as well as variable annuities and variable universal life products sold in New York (originally issued by State Mutual Assurance Company).
In 2008, The Hanover Insurance Group acquires AIX Group
In 2011, The Hanover Insurance Group acquires London-based Chaucer Holdings
- Allmerica Financial Corporation
- Standard & Poor's Stock Guide, various issues
- ALLMERICA PROPERTY & CASUALTY COMPANIES INC Unscheduled Material Events (8-K) Exhibit 2, EdgarOnline, SEC Form:8-K, Filing Date:2/20/1997/
- Analysts say Allmerica Financial came to market at a low price. New York Times, 10/13/1995
- NYSE Euronext, APY
- Item 6 - Exhibits and Reports on Form 8K, The Hanover Insurance Group