Keefe, Bruyette & Woods upgraded shares of Essent Group Ltd. (NYSE:ESNT) from a market perform rating to an outperform rating in a research report released on Wednesday. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods currently has $44.00 price target on the financial services provider’s stock, up from their previous price target of $43.00.

ESNT has been the subject of several other research reports. Bank of America Corporation raised shares of Essent Group from an underperform rating to a buy rating and upped their price objective for the company from $38.00 to $43.00 in a research note on Tuesday, May 9th. Zacks Investment Research cut shares of Essent Group from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research note on Tuesday, July 11th. Deutsche Bank AG increased their price target on shares of Essent Group from $42.00 to $48.00 and gave the company a buy rating in a research note on Tuesday, August 8th. Barclays PLC reissued a buy rating on shares of Essent Group in a research note on Wednesday, August 9th. Finally, BidaskClub cut shares of Essent Group from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research note on Tuesday, August 1st. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, two have assigned a hold rating, five have given a buy rating and one has assigned a strong buy rating to the stock. Essent Group currently has a consensus rating of Buy and an average target price of $43.67.

Shares of Essent Group (ESNT) opened at 39.70 on Wednesday. The company’s 50-day moving average price is $38.66 and its 200 day moving average price is $36.90. Essent Group has a 1-year low of $25.72 and a 1-year high of $41.44. The company has a market cap of $3.71 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 14.13 and a beta of 1.14.

Essent Group (NYSE:ESNT) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Friday, August 4th. The financial services provider reported $0.77 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $0.68 by $0.09. Essent Group had a net margin of 50.92% and a return on equity of 18.77%. The company had revenue of $137.61 million during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $131.99 million. During the same quarter in the prior year, the company earned $0.57 EPS. Essent Group’s revenue was up 27.2% compared to the same quarter last year. On average, analysts predict that Essent Group will post $3.08 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

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In related news, SVP Mary Lourdes Gibbons sold 4,600 shares of the stock in a transaction on Monday, August 7th. The shares were sold at an average price of $41.04, for a total value of $188,784.00. Following the transaction, the senior vice president now directly owns 262,902 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $10,789,498.08. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this link. Also, VP David B. Weinstock sold 2,000 shares of the stock in a transaction on Monday, August 14th. The shares were sold at an average price of $38.95, for a total transaction of $77,900.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the vice president now directly owns 30,785 shares in the company, valued at $1,199,075.75. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold a total of 31,918 shares of company stock worth $1,244,860 over the last ninety days. Insiders own 18.10% of the company’s stock.

Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of ESNT. James Investment Research Inc. bought a new position in Essent Group during the first quarter worth approximately $144,000. Bank of America Corp DE increased its position in shares of Essent Group by 8.0% in the first quarter. Bank of America Corp DE now owns 378,798 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $13,701,000 after buying an additional 27,952 shares during the last quarter. US Bancorp DE increased its position in shares of Essent Group by 4.6% in the first quarter. US Bancorp DE now owns 4,946 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $179,000 after buying an additional 218 shares during the last quarter. Breton Hill Capital Ltd. acquired a new position in shares of Essent Group during the first quarter valued at about $1,026,000. Finally, OppenheimerFunds Inc. acquired a new position in shares of Essent Group during the first quarter valued at about $13,415,000. 85.81% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

About Essent Group

Essent Group Ltd. is a private mortgage insurance company. The Company is engaged in offering private mortgage insurance and reinsurance for mortgages secured by residential properties located in the United States. Its products and services include mortgage insurance, contract underwriting, and Bermuda-based insurance and reinsurance.

Analyst Recommendations for Essent Group (NYSE:ESNT)

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