The strength of specialty insurer Markel (MKL, news) is demonstrated by its long history of value creation. Its ability to grow book value year after year is a credit to Thomas Gayner, who has been the president of the Glen Allen, Va., company for nearly a year and its chief investment officer for about a decade.
But the company also has other long-tenured managers, as well as strong underwriting practices and solid relationships with key suppliers. The stock is priced at 1.3 times book value. It's not mortgage-the-house cheap, but great businesses rarely are.
The Houston company made a big bet on domestic natural gas with its $41 billion all-stock deal for XTO Energy in late 2009, and that deal is looking better as gas prices rise following the recent nuclear disaster in Japan.
Regulated returns, a nice payout, stability -- there's a lot to like about National Grid (NGG, news). This utility player has inflation-protected rates in the United Kingdom, where it earns 60% of its operating profit. Its toll-road-like assets provide an inflation hedge, too.
The London company's management has committed to 8% dividend jumps for the next couple of years.
Ride the gains
The way to wealth involves finding great businesses at reasonable prices, watching as management gets comfortable with the ebbs and flows of the business, buying in when the price is right and letting those gains ride.
These seven stocks fill the bill, and their solid and growing dividends give you even more reason to hang on to these stalwarts through the years.
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
Who came up with this nonsense? What did you do use a dartboard? Let a squid pick 'em?
The author must be planning a short life.
Some folks say he's the best investor of all time. Hey! I have an idea! Maybe we could buy his stock and do well too!
I dunno, I'm just askin'.
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[BRIEFING.COM] Borrowing on the theme of the outperformance of the cyclical sectors in the last update, there has been a notable move in the commodities space that has been highlighted by a sharp rebound in silver prices and oil prices, and healthy gains among the industrial metals.
Silver prices, down close to 4.0% earlier in the session, are now up 2.0% at $22.80/oz. The move in the commodity space has helped vault the materials sector (+0.4%) into a leadership position ... More
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