Axis Capital Holdings Ltd. (NYSE:AXS) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a report issued on Tuesday. The brokerage currently has a $66.00 price target on the stock. Zacks Investment Research’s price target would indicate a potential upside of 10.17% from the stock’s previous close.

According to Zacks, “AXIS Capital’s third-quarter 2016 earnings outperformed the Zacks Consensus Estimate and also grew from the year-ago quarter due to improved year-over-year results at AXIS Insurance, AXIS Re and AXIS Accident & Health businesses. The company plans to ramp-up growth and boost shareholder value, and decision to shut down its Australian retail insurance operations to save costs, making organizational changes to support profitable growth in a demanding global marketplace, focusing on attractive and lower volatility business and divesting businesses that it feels will not give greater returns bodes well. However, stiff competition in the reinsurance industry slowing growth and lowering profitability along with escalating expenses eating into margins remain concerns.”

Separately, Morgan Stanley boosted their target price on shares of Axis Capital Holdings from $59.00 to $60.00 and gave the company an “equal weight” rating in a research report on Thursday, July 28th. Six research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and one has given a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company currently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $59.75.

Analyst Recommendations for Axis Capital Holdings (NYSE:AXS)

Axis Capital Holdings (NYSE:AXS) opened at 59.91 on Tuesday. The company has a market cap of $5.30 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 11.98 and a beta of 0.47. The stock has a 50 day moving average of $56.19 and a 200-day moving average of $55.06. Axis Capital Holdings has a one year low of $51.01 and a one year high of $60.04.

Axis Capital Holdings (NYSE:AXS) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, October 26th. The company reported $1.78 EPS for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.05 by $0.73. Axis Capital Holdings had a net margin of 12.81% and a return on equity of 8.62%. The firm earned $595.43 million during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $710.69 million. During the same period in the previous year, the business posted $0.51 earnings per share. The business’s revenue for the quarter was down 12.1% on a year-over-year basis. On average, equities analysts predict that Axis Capital Holdings will post $4.16 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Monday, October 17th. Investors of record on Monday, October 3rd were given a dividend of $0.35 per share. This represents a $1.40 annualized dividend and a yield of 2.34%. This is a positive change from Axis Capital Holdings’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.29. The ex-dividend date was Thursday, September 29th. Axis Capital Holdings’s payout ratio is 27.72%.

In other Axis Capital Holdings news, Director Michael A. Butt sold 40,673 shares of Axis Capital Holdings stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, October 14th. The shares were sold at an average price of $57.01, for a total transaction of $2,318,767.73. Following the transaction, the director now owns 1,161,675 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $66,227,091.75. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through the SEC website. Also, EVP Richard T. Gieryn, Jr. sold 10,400 shares of Axis Capital Holdings stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, September 9th. The shares were sold at an average price of $56.15, for a total transaction of $583,960.00. Following the transaction, the executive vice president now directly owns 15,958 shares in the company, valued at approximately $896,041.70. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Corporate insiders own 2.00% of the company’s stock.

Institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of the stock. Ifrah Financial Services Inc. increased its position in shares of Axis Capital Holdings by 0.3% in the second quarter. Ifrah Financial Services Inc. now owns 4,874 shares of the company’s stock valued at $268,000 after buying an additional 13 shares in the last quarter. Synovus Financial Corp increased its position in shares of Axis Capital Holdings by 0.6% in the second quarter. Synovus Financial Corp now owns 4,314 shares of the company’s stock valued at $241,000 after buying an additional 26 shares in the last quarter. World Asset Management Inc increased its position in shares of Axis Capital Holdings by 1.3% in the second quarter. World Asset Management Inc now owns 5,676 shares of the company’s stock valued at $312,000 after buying an additional 73 shares in the last quarter. Capstone Asset Management Co. increased its position in shares of Axis Capital Holdings by 2.4% in the second quarter. Capstone Asset Management Co. now owns 4,608 shares of the company’s stock valued at $253,000 after buying an additional 110 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Geneva Advisors LLC increased its position in shares of Axis Capital Holdings by 1.1% in the second quarter. Geneva Advisors LLC now owns 10,724 shares of the company’s stock valued at $590,000 after buying an additional 119 shares in the last quarter. 90.07% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

About Axis Capital Holdings

AXIS Capital Holdings Limited is a holding company for the AXIS group of companies. The Company provides a range of specialty (re)insurance, through subsidiaries and branch networks- based in Bermuda, the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and Singapore. It operates in two segments: AXIS Insurance and AXIS Re.

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