United Fire Group (UFCS) Lowered to “Sell” at BidaskClub

BidaskClub downgraded shares of United Fire Group (NASDAQ:UFCS) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research note issued to investors on Tuesday morning.

Separately, Sandler O’Neill upgraded United Fire Group from a hold rating to a buy rating and boosted their target price for the stock from $46.00 to $47.00 in a research note on Friday, September 22nd.

Shares of United Fire Group (UFCS) traded up $0.27 during midday trading on Tuesday, hitting $46.38. The stock had a trading volume of 78,600 shares, compared to its average volume of 67,612. United Fire Group has a 12-month low of $38.97 and a 12-month high of $50.75. The stock has a market cap of $1,147.11, a P/E ratio of 102.47 and a beta of 0.70.

United Fire Group (NASDAQ:UFCS) last announced its earnings results on Wednesday, November 8th. The insurance provider reported ($0.73) earnings per share for the quarter, missing analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.14 by ($0.87). United Fire Group had a return on equity of 1.32% and a net margin of 1.49%. The business had revenue of $269.55 million during the quarter.

United Fire Group declared that its Board of Directors has authorized a share repurchase program on Wednesday, November 8th that allows the company to repurchase 2,240,000 outstanding shares. This repurchase authorization allows the insurance provider to reacquire shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock repurchase programs are generally a sign that the company’s leadership believes its shares are undervalued.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, December 15th. Stockholders of record on Friday, December 1st will be paid a $0.28 dividend. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, November 30th. This represents a $1.12 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.41%. United Fire Group’s payout ratio is presently 177.78%.

In other news, insider Michael T. Wilkins sold 3,771 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, December 7th. The stock was sold at an average price of $47.24, for a total value of $178,142.04. Following the transaction, the insider now owns 37,704 shares in the company, valued at approximately $1,781,136.96. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this link. Also, COO Michael J. Sheeley sold 3,850 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, November 21st. The stock was sold at an average price of $48.04, for a total value of $184,954.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the chief operating officer now owns 9,529 shares in the company, valued at approximately $457,773.16. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold a total of 11,481 shares of company stock worth $548,710 in the last 90 days. Company insiders own 5.83% of the company’s stock.

A number of institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the stock. Earnest Partners LLC lifted its stake in United Fire Group by 0.8% in the third quarter. Earnest Partners LLC now owns 1,398,479 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $64,078,000 after purchasing an additional 11,176 shares during the last quarter. Northern Trust Corp lifted its stake in United Fire Group by 1.2% in the second quarter. Northern Trust Corp now owns 608,221 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $26,798,000 after purchasing an additional 7,205 shares during the last quarter. State Street Corp lifted its stake in United Fire Group by 2.6% in the second quarter. State Street Corp now owns 515,438 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $22,709,000 after purchasing an additional 13,148 shares during the last quarter. New York State Common Retirement Fund lifted its stake in United Fire Group by 1.0% in the second quarter. New York State Common Retirement Fund now owns 350,025 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $15,422,000 after purchasing an additional 3,399 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Macquarie Group Ltd. lifted its stake in United Fire Group by 13.7% in the third quarter. Macquarie Group Ltd. now owns 271,804 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $12,454,000 after purchasing an additional 32,801 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 58.37% of the company’s stock.

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About United Fire Group

United Fire Group, Inc, formerly United Fire & Casualty Company, is engaged in the business of writing property and casualty insurance and life insurance and selling annuities. The Company operates in two segments: property and casualty insurance, and life insurance. The Company’s property and casualty insurance segment consists of commercial lines insurance, including surety bonds, personal lines insurance and assumed insurance.

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