American Financial Group Inc. (NYSE:AFG) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a report issued on Wednesday.

According to Zacks, “Exposure catastrophe loss is a risk to American Financial’s underwriting results as is a soft interest rate environment on investment. Nonetheless, the company is well poised to benefit from impressive inorganic growth deals and restructuring initiatives. An agreement to acquire the leftover shares of National Interstate shows prudence of investing in business that it knows best.  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 (raised dividend by 12% in Aug 2016) are positives. Notably, the Zacks Consensus Estimate dipped 0.2% for 2016, but the same inched up 0.3% for 2017, over the last 60 days. However, based on strong results through the first half the company expects earnings of $5.35 – $5.75 per share in 2016.”

AFG has been the subject of a number of other research reports. Janney Montgomery Scott reaffirmed a “buy” rating on shares of American Financial Group in a report on Thursday, June 30th. Sandler O’Neill raised American Financial Group from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and lifted their target price for the stock from $74.00 to $81.00 in a report on Friday, August 12th.

Shares of American Financial Group (NYSE:AFG) traded up 0.74% during midday trading on Wednesday, reaching $76.17. 57,838 shares of the company’s stock were exchanged. American Financial Group has a one year low of $64.87 and a one year high of $76.93. The company’s 50-day moving average is $74.92 and its 200-day moving average is $72.43. The stock has a market cap of $6.62 billion, a P/E ratio of 19.47 and a beta of 0.76.

American Financial Group (NYSE:AFG) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, August 2nd. The company reported $1.28 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.27 by $0.01. American Financial Group had a return on equity of 9.74% and a net margin of 5.46%. The business had revenue of $1.58 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $1.06 billion. During the same quarter in the previous year, the firm earned $1.28 earnings per share. The company’s revenue was up 4.3% on a year-over-year basis. Equities analysts expect that American Financial Group will post $5.70 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, October 25th. Shareholders of record on Friday, October 14th will be issued a $0.3125 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Wednesday, October 12th. This is an increase from American Financial Group’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.28. This represents a $1.25 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 1.65%. American Financial Group’s payout ratio is presently 28.57%.

In other American Financial Group news, CEO Carl H. Lindner III sold 100,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, September 26th. The stock was sold at an average price of $75.14, for a total value of $7,514,000.00. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through this hyperlink. Also, Director Terry S. Jacobs sold 1,223 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, August 4th. The shares were sold at an average price of $71.56, for a total value of $87,517.88. Following the completion of the transaction, the director now directly owns 2,400 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $171,744. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 14.90% of the stock is owned by company insiders.

A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in AFG. Creative Planning increased its position in shares of American Financial Group by 0.3% in the second quarter. Creative Planning now owns 8,674 shares of the company’s stock worth $641,000 after buying an additional 29 shares during the last quarter. PNC Financial Services Group Inc. increased its position in shares of American Financial Group by 0.8% in the second quarter. PNC Financial Services Group Inc. now owns 3,564 shares of the company’s stock worth $263,000 after buying an additional 30 shares during the last quarter. M&T Bank Corp increased its position in shares of American Financial Group by 0.9% in the first quarter. M&T Bank Corp now owns 4,447 shares of the company’s stock worth $313,000 after buying an additional 40 shares during the last quarter. Checchi Capital Advisers LLC increased its position in shares of American Financial Group by 2.1% in the second quarter. Checchi Capital Advisers LLC now owns 2,028 shares of the company’s stock worth $150,000 after buying an additional 42 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Moody Lynn & Lieberson LLC increased its position in shares of American Financial Group by 1.2% in the second quarter. Moody Lynn & Lieberson LLC now owns 5,529 shares of the company’s stock worth $409,000 after buying an additional 64 shares during the last quarter. 59.90% of the stock is 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.

5 Day Chart for NYSE:AFG

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