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Amid Facebook's user data scandal, Auto-Owners Insurance bought up shares

A scandal that caused major headaches for Facebook Inc. and sent its stock sliding might have been a great investment opportunity for Auto-Owners Insurance Co.

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According to an analysis of quarterly statutory statements, seven different Auto-Owners subsidiaries initiated new stakes in Facebook in the first quarter, their lone common stock purchases for the period. The filings show that the Auto-Owners units bought a combined 107,800 Facebook shares in the first three months of the year.

In mid-March, Facebook became embroiled in a scandal related to the mishandling of personal user data by outside companies, including the now-infamous Cambridge Analytica LLC. The social network's stock slumped after announcing it suspended the accounts of the data analytics firms for infringing on the platform's personal data policies.

Auto-Owners' calculated per-share purchase price of $154.93 almost lines up with Facebook's lowest year-to-date closing price of $152.22. But once the scandal faded from headlines, Facebook's stock rebounded. Shares climbed to $196.81 as of the June 14 close.

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State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., the largest holder of Facebook stock among U.S. insurers as of the end of 2017, increased its holdings in Facebook during the first quarter. The company bought 34,168 shares in the period at a calculated purchase price of $180.75 per share. As of the end of the quarter, State Farm owned nearly 2 million Facebook shares.

Factory Mutual Insurance Co. and Zurich Insurance Group AG each bought more than 40,000 Facebook shares in the first quarter. Factory Mutual acquired its new shares at a price of about $170.00 per share.

Among U.S. insurers, Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. and Erie Indemnity Co. reported the largest decreases in their holdings of Facebook. They reduced their stakes by about 92,000 and 27,000 shares, respectively.

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S&P Global Market Intelligence offers a variety of tools to analyze investments of insurance companies.

Click here for a template to review all purchases and sales of invested assets for selected filing period/s for a single company or group.

Click here for a template that allows you to input full or partial CUSIPS to search for U.S. insurance company exposure to individual securities.