American Financial Group Inc (AFG) Raised to “Buy” at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of American Financial Group Inc (NYSE:AFG) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note issued to investors on Monday, May 8th. The firm currently has $112.00 price target on the insurance provider’s stock.

According to Zacks, “American Financial’s first-quarter 2017 earnings beat our expectations and also improved significantly from the year-ago quarter. Shares of American Financial outperformed the Zacks categorized Property and Casualty (P&C) industry since it posted better than expected first quarter results. The company is well poised to benefit from impressive inorganic growth deals (completes National Interstate merger on Nov 10, 2016) and restructuring initiatives. Better industry fundamentals, with strong pricing and a higher renewal ratio, should drive overall growth. A strong balance sheet, low leverage cost, and disciplined capital management are positives. Based on strong operational performance, the company expects core net operating earnings of $6.20–$6.70 per share in 2017. However, exposure to catastrophe loss is a risk to American Financial’s underwriting results as a soft interest rate environment is on investment.”

American Financial Group (NYSE:AFG) opened at 98.84 on Monday. The company has a 50-day moving average price of $96.94 and a 200 day moving average price of $90.85. The company has a market cap of $8.66 billion, a PE ratio of 12.50 and a beta of 0.70. American Financial Group has a 12-month low of $69.06 and a 12-month high of $100.58.

American Financial Group (NYSE:AFG) last posted its earnings results on Wednesday, May 3rd. The insurance provider reported $1.69 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.37 by $0.32. American Financial Group had a return on equity of 10.34% and a net margin of 9.99%. The company had revenue of $1.58 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $1.14 billion. During the same period last year, the firm earned $1.25 earnings per share. American Financial Group’s quarterly revenue was up 6.8% on a year-over-year basis. On average, analysts forecast that American Financial Group will post $6.63 EPS for the current fiscal year.

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The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Thursday, May 25th. Investors of record on Monday, May 15th were issued a $1.50 dividend. This is a positive change from American Financial Group’s previous quarterly dividend of $1.00. This represents a $6.00 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 6.07%. The ex-dividend date was Thursday, May 11th. American Financial Group’s payout ratio is presently 17.08%.

In other American Financial Group news, VP Vito C. Peraino sold 26,709 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, March 14th. The shares were sold at an average price of $96.01, for a total value of $2,564,331.09. Following the sale, the vice president now owns 73,832 shares in the company, valued at approximately $7,088,610.32. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, CEO S Craig Lindner sold 26,475 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, May 9th. The shares were sold at an average price of $99.46, for a total transaction of $2,633,203.50. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last 90 days, insiders sold 121,861 shares of company stock valued at $11,912,464. 14.90% of the stock is owned by company insiders.

Hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of the company. Vanguard Group Inc. raised its stake in American Financial Group by 7.1% in the first quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 6,517,519 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $621,902,000 after buying an additional 431,262 shares during the period. BlackRock Inc. increased its position in shares of American Financial Group by 10,325.5% in the first quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 5,915,732 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $564,476,000 after buying an additional 5,858,989 shares in the last quarter. State Street Corp increased its position in shares of American Financial Group by 1.7% in the fourth quarter. State Street Corp now owns 2,205,754 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $194,372,000 after buying an additional 37,626 shares in the last quarter. Victory Capital Management Inc. increased its position in shares of American Financial Group by 5.8% in the first quarter. Victory Capital Management Inc. now owns 2,098,038 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $200,195,000 after buying an additional 114,826 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Eaton Vance Management increased its position in shares of American Financial Group by 13.3% in the third quarter. Eaton Vance Management now owns 1,399,688 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $104,977,000 after buying an additional 163,911 shares in the last quarter. 59.51% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

American Financial Group Company Profile

American Financial Group, Inc (AFG) is a holding company engaged primarily in property and casualty insurance businesses. The Company, through Great American Insurance Group, focuses on commercial products for businesses, and is engaged in the sale of fixed and fixed-indexed annuities in the retail, financial institutions and education markets.

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