Zacks Investment Research Lowers American Financial Group (NYSE:AFG) to Hold

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Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of American Financial Group (NYSE:AFG) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a report issued on Wednesday morning, Zacks.com reports. Zacks Investment Research currently has $112.00 price objective on the insurance provider’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Shares of American Financial have outperformed the industry year to date. It is well-poised to benefit from impressive inorganic growth and is thus prudently investing in businesses it is knowledgeable about. The recent deal between National Interstate, its commercial transportation specialist subsidiary and Atlas Financial to be the exclusive underwriter the latter’s paratransit business bears the testimony to the same.  Consistent price increase in Property and Casualty business should favor results. Better industry fundamentals with strong pricing and a higher renewal ratio should drive overall growth. A strong balance sheet, low leverage cost and an efficient capital management are tailwinds. It expects operating earnings in the range of $8.35-$8.85 in 2019. However, soft Annuity business and exposure to catastrophe  loss are concerns.”

A number of other research firms have also recently weighed in on AFG. Buckingham Research upgraded shares of American Financial Group from a neutral rating to a buy rating and set a $120.00 price target on the stock in a report on Thursday, June 13th. ValuEngine raised shares of USINAS SIDERURG/S from a sell rating to a hold rating in a research report on Wednesday, May 29th.

NYSE:AFG opened at $105.22 on Wednesday. American Financial Group has a fifty-two week low of $84.18 and a fifty-two week high of $115.00. The company has a market cap of $9.42 billion, a PE ratio of 13.13, a P/E/G ratio of 1.98 and a beta of 0.87. The company has a quick ratio of 0.15, a current ratio of 0.15 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.25. The firm has a 50-day moving average price of $102.34.

American Financial Group (NYSE:AFG) last released its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, May 1st. The insurance provider reported $2.02 earnings per share for the quarter, missing analysts’ consensus estimates of $2.05 by ($0.03). American Financial Group had a net margin of 9.45% and a return on equity of 13.90%. The firm had revenue of $1.17 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $1.23 billion. During the same quarter in the prior year, the business posted $2.42 earnings per share. The firm’s quarterly revenue was up 6.0% on a year-over-year basis. Equities analysts expect that American Financial Group will post 8.67 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, July 25th. Investors of record on Monday, July 15th will be given a $0.40 dividend. This represents a $1.60 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 1.52%. The ex-dividend date is Friday, July 12th. American Financial Group’s payout ratio is currently 19.05%.

In related news, CEO S Craig Lindner sold 30,000 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, May 3rd. The shares were sold at an average price of $102.75, for a total value of $3,082,500.00. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this hyperlink. Also, CEO Carl H. Lindner III sold 163,012 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, May 7th. The shares were sold at an average price of $102.96, for a total transaction of $16,783,715.52. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold a total of 398,413 shares of company stock valued at $40,950,043 over the last ninety days. 11.90% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

Several institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in AFG. Nisa Investment Advisors LLC increased its holdings in shares of American Financial Group by 15.8% during the 2nd quarter. Nisa Investment Advisors LLC now owns 91,480 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $9,374,000 after purchasing an additional 12,500 shares in the last quarter. Xact Kapitalforvaltning AB increased its holdings in shares of American Financial Group by 28.1% during the 2nd quarter. Xact Kapitalforvaltning AB now owns 8,115 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $832,000 after purchasing an additional 1,781 shares in the last quarter. Campbell & CO Investment Adviser LLC purchased a new position in shares of American Financial Group during the 2nd quarter valued at approximately $252,000. Retirement Systems of Alabama increased its holdings in shares of American Financial Group by 0.3% during the 2nd quarter. Retirement Systems of Alabama now owns 92,157 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $9,443,000 after purchasing an additional 310 shares in the last quarter. Finally, WINTON GROUP Ltd increased its holdings in shares of American Financial Group by 66.9% during the 2nd quarter. WINTON GROUP Ltd now owns 13,827 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $1,417,000 after purchasing an additional 5,543 shares in the last quarter. 63.17% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

American Financial Group Company Profile

American Financial Group, Inc, an insurance holding company, provides property and casualty insurance products in the United States. The company operates through three segments: Property and Casualty Insurance, Annuity, and Other. It offers property and transportation insurance products, such as physical damage and liability coverage for buses, trucks and recreational vehicles, inland and ocean marine, agricultural-related products, and other property; specialty casualty insurance, including primarily excess and surplus, general liability, executive liability, professional liability, umbrella and excess liability, and specialty coverage in targeted markets, as well as customized programs for small to mid-sized businesses and workers' compensation insurance; and specialty financial insurance products comprising risk management insurance programs for leasing and financing institutions, surety and fidelity products, and trade credit insurance.

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