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Brendan Byrnes: All right. Let's move over to financials, your expertise, Matt. What do you think surprised you, good or bad, in 2012?
Matt Koppenheffer: Actually, to continue on that "left for dead" theme, AIG. Talk about poster child for the financial crisis. This is a company that nobody thought was going to really come back. It got that massive government bailout. I think there were a lot of people that thought it would continue to stumble along.
Then if you just look at the last week, the things that AIG has done -- they sold 80% of their aircraft leasing business, which frees up their balance sheet to a really large extent, and the Treasury announced that they sold their remaining stake in AIG, so AIG is no longer a ward of the state at this point, and that's just the last week.
If you look at the collective strides that AIG has taken since the financial crisis, this is a whole new company. Looking forward, it has the opportunity to show if its core businesses -- the life insurance and the property and casualty insurance that it has -- are still really solid insurers, which we could argue that they were before the financial crisis.
Then combine that with the fact that it's trading at a ridiculously cheap valuation multiple -- this is a company that's surprised me. I didn't think I'd ever like it. I didn't think I could ever like AIG again, and now I'm thinking that I might have to pull the trigger on it.
The article 1 Stock That Stunned the Street in 2012 originally appeared on Fool.com.Andrew Tonner, Brendan Byrnes, and Matt Koppenheffer have no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends, owns shares of, and has options on AIG. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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