Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of American Financial Group, Inc. (NYSE:AFG) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report report published on Thursday. The brokerage currently has $109.00 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. 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. Based on strong operational performance, it raised core net operating earnings of $6.40–$6.90 per share in 2017. Estimates for 2017 and 2018 also moved north over the last 60 days.  However, American Financial’s exposure to cat loss is a risk to underwriting results. A still soft interest rate environment is expected to weigh on desired upside in investment results.”

Separately, BidaskClub upgraded shares of American Financial Group from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note on Saturday, June 17th.

Shares of American Financial Group (AFG) traded up 3.36% during mid-day trading on Thursday, hitting $98.75. 340,795 shares of the company’s stock were exchanged. American Financial Group has a 52 week low of $73.38 and a 52 week high of $105.58. The company has a market capitalization of $8.69 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 11.13 and a beta of 0.84. The firm has a 50 day moving average price of $102.11 and a 200-day moving average price of $98.58.

American Financial Group (NYSE:AFG) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, August 1st. The insurance provider reported $1.61 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.30 by $0.31. American Financial Group had a net margin of 11.89% and a return on equity of 11.66%. The firm had revenue of $1.07 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $1.12 billion. During the same quarter in the previous year, the company earned $1.28 earnings per share. The business’s revenue was up 3.7% compared to the same quarter last year. On average, equities analysts anticipate that American Financial Group will post $6.80 EPS for the current year.

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In other American Financial Group news, insider John B. Berding sold 12,792 shares of American Financial Group stock in a transaction on Thursday, June 15th. The stock was sold at an average price of $101.13, for a total transaction of $1,293,654.96. Following the completion of the transaction, the insider now directly owns 66,057 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $6,680,344.41. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which can be accessed through this hyperlink. Also, CEO S Craig Lindner sold 25,000 shares of American Financial Group stock in a transaction on Thursday, August 3rd. The shares were sold at an average price of $104.27, for a total value of $2,606,750.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold 143,320 shares of company stock worth $14,690,115 in the last quarter. Corporate insiders own 14.90% of the company’s stock.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of the business. Bank of Montreal Can lifted its holdings in shares of American Financial Group by 344.2% during the second quarter. Bank of Montreal Can now owns 108,798 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $10,811,000 after acquiring an additional 84,306 shares during the period. Morgan Stanley lifted its holdings in shares of American Financial Group by 82.9% during the first quarter. Morgan Stanley now owns 227,007 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $21,662,000 after acquiring an additional 102,874 shares during the period. Prudential Financial Inc. lifted its holdings in shares of American Financial Group by 20.5% during the second quarter. Prudential Financial Inc. now owns 950,796 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $94,480,000 after acquiring an additional 161,661 shares during the period. Principal Financial Group Inc. lifted its holdings in shares of American Financial Group by 7.9% during the second quarter. Principal Financial Group Inc. now owns 620,201 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $61,629,000 after acquiring an additional 45,232 shares during the period. Finally, Mackenzie Financial Corp lifted its holdings in shares of American Financial Group by 0.5% during the first quarter. Mackenzie Financial Corp now owns 6,452 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $616,000 after acquiring an additional 30 shares during the period. 62.66% 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.

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