MGIC Investment Corp., the nation's largest mortgage insurer, is splitting its stock 2-for-1.

The split is a sign of how well private mortgage insurers have done in the past few years compared with lenders. These companies insure loans with down payments of less than 20%.

Robert G. Hottensen Jr., an analyst for Goldman, Sachs & Co., said MGIC has built a credible track record in the last few years of consistent earnings-per-share growth of about 20%. Other mortgage insurers also have repeatedly posted earnings gains of more than 15%. Their stock prices have reflected this.

Stock of Milwaukee-based MGIC has risen more than 50% in the last year. It hit a 52-week high of $82.875 as of midday Friday.

Triad Guaranty Corp., another mortgage insurer, has seen its stock price appreciate 47% in the last year, while CMAC Investment Corp.'s stock has risen 35%. Triad split its stock 3-for-2 last July and CMAC split 2-for-1 in December.

In comparison, the stock prices of lenders North American Mortgage Co., Resource Bancshares Mortgage Group, and Countrywide Credit Industries have risen just 9%, 15%, and 28%, respectively, in the last year.

And since Jan. 1, the stock prices for these three lenders have all fallen, while CMAC's shares have risen 4%, MGIC's are up 10%, and Triad's have appreciated 14%.

Mr. Hottensen said the long-term growth prospects for the industry continue to look bright. "None of the players in this industry are in financial distress," he said.

MGIC's president and chief executive officer, William H. Lacy, said the split would "make the company's shares available to a broader segment of the investing public."

Smaller individual investors are likely to be more willing to buy MGIC stock at a price of around $40 a share, Mr. Hottensen said.

MGIC's new shares will be issued June 2 to shareholders of record May 19. After the split, MGIC will have about 118 million shares outstanding. MGIC also announced it was increasing its dividend 25%, to 5 cents per share.

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