Assured Guaranty (AGO) Initiated With $35 Target At BTIG

A week ago, BTIG upgraded MBIA on the same thesis we had noted two months prior. Today, it is AGO's turn, on virtually the same assumptions and the same thesis as MBIA. To wit: "We view Assured Guaranty?s equity as deeply undervalued at current trading levels and anticipate that as the fears that have depressed its share price abate and the viability of its business model becomes more apparent, it will gravitate toward its intrinsic value. Consequently, we believe investors who can appreciate that Assured?s risk profile is overstated, and that its ability to generate profitable new business is understated, could realize outsized returns. We are initiating coverage of Assured Guaranty with a BUY and a $35 price target which is based on a 0.75x multiple of the company?s 2012E year-end stand-alone adjusted per share book value of $48.56. We believe some discount to adjusted book value is appropriate, for while we view the AGO?s portfolio exposures as manageable, they nevertheless present the potential for some loss of value. AGO trades at 0.23x the company?s 3Q11 adjusted per share book value. We believe the market reacted appropriately in providing AGO?s stock with a boost last week after Standard & Poor?s announced that the company would maintain its vital „AA? rating, particularly when the company?s ongoing efforts to boost capital appear to have given the rating staying power. However, we also believe that the stock price does not come close to reflecting what the removal of the rating overhang could mean for AGO as the only currently functioning monoline, and that last week?s price action may presage much larger gains ahead." And while AGO does not have the massive short overhang which could lead to an explosive short squeeze when unleashed, the underlying thesis is quite credible.

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