American Financial Group (AFG) Upgraded to Buy by Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of American Financial Group (NYSE:AFG) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report issued on Thursday. The firm currently has $124.00 price target on the insurance provider’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Shares of American Financial have outperformed the industry year to date. The company is well poised to benefit from impressive inorganic growth and restructuring initiatives. Better industry fundamentals with strong pricing and a higher renewal ratio should drive overall growth. Investment income has also been rising and the company expects the same to increase 4-6% in 2018. Consistent price increase in property and casualty business, combined ratio that compares favorably with industry average, a strong balance sheet, low leverage cost and disciplined capital management are positives. The company estimates operating earnings in the range of $7.90-$8.40 per share in 2018. However, exposure to cat loss is a risk to underwriting results. The company is expected to report fist quarter earnings in the first week of May. A Zacks Rank #3 combined with Earnings ESP of +2.40% makes up confident of an positive surprise.”

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AFG has been the subject of a number of other research reports. ValuEngine lowered American Financial Group from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research note on Monday, April 2nd. Bank of America increased their target price on American Financial Group from $120.00 to $122.00 and gave the company a buy rating in a research note on Thursday, February 1st. Finally, Sandler O’Neill reiterated a buy rating and issued a $119.00 target price on shares of American Financial Group in a research note on Wednesday, January 10th. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, two have issued a hold rating and three have assigned a buy rating to the stock. The stock has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus target price of $117.00.

NYSE:AFG traded down $0.57 on Thursday, hitting $111.14. 62,211 shares of the stock were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 343,814. The firm has a market capitalization of $9,823.24, a PE ratio of 16.93, a P/E/G ratio of 0.87 and a beta of 0.78. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.24, a current ratio of 0.18 and a quick ratio of 0.18. American Financial Group has a fifty-two week low of $93.25 and a fifty-two week high of $121.69.

American Financial Group (NYSE:AFG) last posted its earnings results on Wednesday, January 31st. The insurance provider reported $2.20 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.67 by $0.53. American Financial Group had a return on equity of 11.09% and a net margin of 6.92%. The business had revenue of $1.23 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $1.11 billion. During the same quarter last year, the firm earned $1.98 earnings per share. The company’s revenue for the quarter was up 7.1% compared to the same quarter last year. research analysts anticipate that American Financial Group will post 8.24 earnings per share for the current year.

The business also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Wednesday, April 25th. Stockholders of record on Friday, April 13th will be paid a $0.35 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, April 12th. This represents a $1.40 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 1.26%. American Financial Group’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is currently 21.37%.

In related news, insider John B. Berding sold 5,285 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Thursday, March 22nd. The stock was sold at an average price of $113.58, for a total value of $600,270.30. Following the completion of the transaction, the insider now owns 59,585 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $6,767,664.30. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at the SEC website. Also, VP Vito C. Peraino sold 51,000 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Monday, February 5th. The shares were sold at an average price of $113.86, for a total value of $5,806,860.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 14.90% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

A number of institutional investors and hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of AFG. Cerebellum GP LLC purchased a new position in American Financial Group in the fourth quarter valued at about $111,000. Fuller & Thaler Asset Management Inc. purchased a new position in American Financial Group in the fourth quarter valued at about $119,000. Pin Oak Investment Advisors Inc. purchased a new position in American Financial Group in the fourth quarter valued at about $122,000. Signition LP purchased a new position in American Financial Group in the fourth quarter valued at about $204,000. Finally, GSA Capital Partners LLP purchased a new position in American Financial Group in the third quarter valued at about $211,000. 62.32% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

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About American Financial Group

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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