W.R. Berkley Corp. (WRB) Cut to Hold at Zacks Investment Research
W.R. Berkley Corp. (NYSE:WRB) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report issued on Friday.
According to Zacks, “W.R. Berkley has invested in a number of startups since 2006 which enables it to take advantage of an improved market scenario. Formation of operating units in North and Southeast Asia is in tandem with the strategy. Also, the divestment of wholly owned investment is expected to enhance long term shareholder’s value. Its international business has potential for long-term earnings growth. Reserving discipline and strong capital position are other positives. The recent formation of Berkley Transactional will help it to benefit from opportunities offered by the insurance market. The Zacks Consensus Estimates for 2016 has also witnessed upward revision over the last few weeks. However, W.R. Berkley’s exposure to highly competitive insurance market along with low interest rate scenario and cat losses raises concerns. Yet, riding on solid operational performance, the company has delivered positive surprise in each of the last four quarters.”
Several other brokerages have also weighed in on WRB. Royal Bank Of Canada upped their price objective on W.R. Berkley Corp. from $57.00 to $61.00 and gave the company a “sector perform” rating in a report on Wednesday, July 13th. Credit Suisse Group AG set a $52.00 price objective on W.R. Berkley Corp. and gave the company a “sell” rating in a report on Monday, September 12th. Finally, Compass Point upped their price objective on W.R. Berkley Corp. from $55.00 to $60.00 and gave the company a “neutral” rating in a report on Tuesday, July 26th. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating and five have assigned a hold rating to the stock. W.R. Berkley Corp. presently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $56.83.
W.R. Berkley Corp. (NYSE:WRB) opened at 57.65 on Friday. W.R. Berkley Corp. has a 12 month low of $47.54 and a 12 month high of $60.08. The stock has a 50 day moving average price of $58.00 and a 200-day moving average price of $57.14. The stock has a market cap of $7.08 billion, a PE ratio of 15.12 and a beta of 0.82.
W.R. Berkley Corp. (NYSE:WRB) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Monday, July 25th. The company reported $0.82 EPS for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.77 by $0.05. The firm earned $1.56 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $1.96 billion. W.R. Berkley Corp. had a return on equity of 9.53% and a net margin of 6.69%. The firm’s revenue was up 4.5% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period in the prior year, the business earned $0.81 EPS. On average, analysts expect that W.R. Berkley Corp. will post $3.41 EPS for the current year.
The company also recently announced a dividend, which was paid on Wednesday, October 5th. Shareholders of record on Tuesday, September 20th were given a $0.63 dividend. This is a positive change from W.R. Berkley Corp.’s previous dividend of $0.12. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Friday, September 16th. W.R. Berkley Corp.’s dividend payout ratio is presently 13.65%.
Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of the stock. Atlanta Capital Management Co. L L C bought a new position in shares of W.R. Berkley Corp. during the second quarter worth approximately $126,946,000. Victory Capital Management Inc. increased its stake in shares of W.R. Berkley Corp. by 112.7% in the second quarter. Victory Capital Management Inc. now owns 1,474,402 shares of the company’s stock valued at $88,347,000 after buying an additional 781,179 shares during the last quarter. PGGM Investments increased its stake in shares of W.R. Berkley Corp. by 181.2% in the second quarter. PGGM Investments now owns 604,299 shares of the company’s stock valued at $36,210,000 after buying an additional 389,421 shares during the last quarter. Eaton Vance Management acquired a new stake in shares of W.R. Berkley Corp. during the second quarter valued at $22,672,000. Finally, BlackRock Fund Advisors increased its stake in shares of W.R. Berkley Corp. by 8.3% in the second quarter. BlackRock Fund Advisors now owns 4,506,370 shares of the company’s stock valued at $270,022,000 after buying an additional 346,404 shares during the last quarter. 70.99% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.
W.R. Berkley Corp. Company Profile
W. R. Berkley Corporation is an insurance holding company. The Company operates in the three segments of the property casualty insurance business: Insurance-Domestic, Insurance-International and Reinsurance-Global. Its Insurance-Domestic segment includes commercial insurance business, including excess and surplus lines and admitted lines, primarily throughout the United States.
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