W. R. Berkley (NYSE:WRB) Upgraded to Buy at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of W. R. Berkley (NYSE:WRB) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note published on Wednesday, December 27th. They currently have $79.00 target price on the insurance provider’s stock.

According to Zacks, “W.R. Berkley has been investing in a number of startups since 2006 as well as establishing new units, which enables it to take advantage of an improved market scenario. Formation of operating units in North and Southeast Asia is in tandem with the strategy while divestment of wholly owned investment is expected to enhance long term shareholder’s value. Its international business has potential for long-term earnings growth. Reserving discipline and strong capital position are other positives. However, exposure to highly competitive insurance market along with low interest rate scenario and cat losses are dampeners. Also, shares of W.R. Berkley underperformed the industry, year to date. The company is set to release fourth quarter results on Jan 30. A Zacks Rank #2 increases the predictive power of a beat, but combined with a negative Earnings ESP of 7.41% makes prediction difficult.”

A number of other research analysts have also issued reports on WRB. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods restated a hold rating and set a $69.00 price target on shares of W. R. Berkley in a research note on Friday, November 17th. Deutsche Bank upped their price target on shares of W. R. Berkley from $65.00 to $66.00 and gave the company a hold rating in a research note on Wednesday, October 25th. Bank of America upped their price target on shares of W. R. Berkley from $73.00 to $74.00 and gave the company a neutral rating in a research note on Wednesday, October 25th. Buckingham Research began coverage on shares of W. R. Berkley in a research note on Monday, September 11th. They set a neutral rating and a $67.00 price target on the stock. Finally, Royal Bank of Canada reaffirmed a hold rating and issued a $72.00 price objective on shares of W. R. Berkley in a report on Tuesday, August 29th. Two analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, eight have given a hold rating and two have given a buy rating to the stock. The stock has a consensus rating of Hold and an average price target of $70.38.

W. R. Berkley (WRB) opened at $67.95 on Wednesday. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.45, a quick ratio of 0.34 and a current ratio of 0.34. The company has a market cap of $8,300.00, a P/E ratio of 15.99, a P/E/G ratio of 2.21 and a beta of 0.91. W. R. Berkley has a 52 week low of $62.00 and a 52 week high of $73.17.

The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Thursday, December 14th. Investors of record on Thursday, November 30th were issued a dividend of $0.14 per share. This represents a $0.56 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 0.82%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Wednesday, November 29th. W. R. Berkley’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 13.18%.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. Tower Research Capital LLC TRC boosted its holdings in W. R. Berkley by 683.0% during the second quarter. Tower Research Capital LLC TRC now owns 1,566 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $108,000 after buying an additional 1,366 shares in the last quarter. Massey Quick Simon & CO. LLC purchased a new stake in W. R. Berkley during the third quarter worth $175,000. Advisor Group Inc. boosted its holdings in W. R. Berkley by 50.7% during the second quarter. Advisor Group Inc. now owns 3,370 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $233,000 after buying an additional 1,134 shares in the last quarter. Ladenburg Thalmann Financial Services Inc. boosted its holdings in W. R. Berkley by 48.0% during the third quarter. Ladenburg Thalmann Financial Services Inc. now owns 3,597 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $241,000 after buying an additional 1,167 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Cadence Capital Management LLC purchased a new stake in W. R. Berkley during the third quarter worth $256,000. 71.03% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

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W. R. Berkley Company Profile

W. R. Berkley Corporation is an insurance holding company. It operates through two segments: Insurance and Reinsurance-Global. The Insurance segment consists of its commercial insurance business operations, comprising excess and surplus lines, and admitted lines, throughout the United States, as well as its insurance business operations in the United Kingdom, Continental Europe, South America, Canada, Mexico, Scandinavia, Asia and Australia.

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