Life Insurance Companies Own $2 Billion of Stock in Fast Food Chains

Sunday, April 25, 2010
Mark Doll, Chief Investment Officer of Northwestern Mutual

Insurance companies that offer life and disability coverage are some of the best customers of the fast food industry when it comes to buying its stocks. Investment data published in the American Journal of Public Health revealed that insurers owned $1.9 billion in investments in the five largest fast-food corporations—McDonald’s ($1.2 billion), Yum! Brands, such as KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut ($404.2 million), Burger King ($165.5 million), Jack in the Box ($120 million) and Wendy’s/Arby’s ($15 million).

Northwestern Mutual led the way in fast-food stocks, with $422.2 million, followed by Dutch-owned ING ($406.1 million), Massachusetts Mutual ($366.5 million) and Prudential Financial ($355.5 million).
J. Wesley Boyd of Harvard Medical School and Cambridge Health Alliance told ABC News’ MedPage Today: “They're hedging their bets. First of all, they’re making money by directly investing in fast food, and, secondly, they're making money by often charging higher premiums to people who’ve eaten a little too much fast food and are obese, have diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, etc.”
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Life and Health Insurance Industry Investments in Fast Food (by Mohan, McCormick, Woodhandler, Himmelstein and Boyd, American Journal of Public Health) (pdf)


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