Money Odds & Ends

Acuity set record for policies in 2008

In 2008, Sheboygan-based insurer ACUITY set a new, all-time record for the number of policies in force, at 230,000. The company gained an increase in new customers in both commercial and personal lines.

“Our record-setting policy count shows that an ever-increasing number of agents and their customers—individuals, families, and businesses—are putting their trust in ACUITY,” said Wally Waldhart, vice president of sales and communications for the company.

In commercial lines, ACUITY set a new record for quote requests received. The insurer said it was also successful in writing over 38 percent of the quotes it provided, an all-time high.

In personal lines, ACUITY topped $196 million in premium for the first time in its history. The company also wrote $40 million in new premium while increasing its policy count 10 percent from the previous all-time high set in 2007.

“We are growing in virtually every state we do business in, including in states and markets where we have been established for decades and where other carriers perpetually have difficulty growing,” said Ed Warren, the company’s vice president of commercial lines. “Our renewal retention has also remained remarkably strong in this competitive market.”

Hartland biotech company lands state loan

Hartland-based Eso-Technologies Inc. will receive a $100,000 Technology Venture Fund loan from the Wisconsin Department of Commerce to assist in the company’s $3 million project to develop prototypes and perform clinical trials.

The company was founded in 2007 to implement the patented technologies of John Atlee, M.D., for monitoring the cardiovascular system. The firm has developed an esophageal monitoring device that is less invasive and more effective than the currently-used pulmonary catheter. The device also is less expensive and easier to use and can be expanded to provide additional monitoring and therapeutic capabilities. 

The Department of Commerce certified the company as a Qualified New Business Venture eligible for early stage and angel investment under Act 255.

"Eso-Technologies Inc. would like to thank Gov. (Jim) Doyle and the Department of Commerce for their vote of confidence and assistance. Their actions underscore the company’s commitment to advance better patient care throughout the world by introducing our new, life- saving and cost effective medical device," said Bonnie Reinke, President and chief executive officer of the company.

"Facing uncertain economic times, it’s important we continue to invest in developing technology that will help Wisconsin compete at the high end of the global economy," Doyle said. "I am pleased we could help further the opportunities of a company like Eso-Technologies, Inc., which is developing new and better technologies to monitor cardiovascular function."

Culver predicts no profits for MGIC in 2009

Milwaukee-based MGIC Investment Corp. reported a fourth-quarter net loss $273.3 million, or $2.21 per share, compared with net loss of $1.47 billion, or $18.17 per share, for the same quarter a year ago.

Total revenues for the fourth quarter were $411.5 million, up 3.1 percent from $399.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2007.

The net loss for the full year of 2008 was $518.9 million, compared with a net loss of $1.67 billion for 2007. For the full year of 2008, diluted loss per share was $4.55 compared with diluted loss per share of $20.54 for the same period last year.

Curt Culver, chairman and chief executive officer of MGIC Investment Corp. and Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corp., said that falling home values and the impact of the recession have caused a significant increase in delinquencies in the fourth quarter and for the full year of 2008 and continue to materially impact the company’s financial results.

Culver said that given the current state of the housing market and the company’s expectations for higher unemployment, the company does not expect a return to profitability in 2009. He added that despite the difficult operating environment, the company has adequate resources to meet its claim obligations.


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