American Financial Group (NYSE:AFG) Downgraded by Zacks Investment Research to Hold

Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of American Financial Group (NYSE:AFG) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research report sent to investors on Thursday, December 21st.

According to Zacks, “Shares of American Financial have outperformed the industry year to date. The company also witnessed the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2017 and 2018 move north over the last 60 days. American Financial 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 the first nine months’ results, it lowered core net operating earnings to a range of $5.90-$6.20 per share in 2017. However, its exposure to cat loss is a risk to underwriting results.”

A number of other research analysts also recently weighed in on the stock. BidaskClub downgraded shares of American Financial Group from a hold rating to a sell rating in a report on Friday, August 25th. Buckingham Research began coverage on shares of American Financial Group in a report on Monday, September 11th. They set a neutral rating and a $103.00 price target on the stock.

Shares of American Financial Group (NYSE:AFG) opened at $109.16 on Thursday. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.24, a current ratio of 0.19 and a quick ratio of 0.19. The company has a market cap of $9,618.42, a P/E ratio of 14.01, a P/E/G ratio of 1.33 and a beta of 0.85. American Financial Group has a 12-month low of $85.57 and a 12-month high of $109.43.

American Financial Group (NYSE:AFG) last released its earnings results on Tuesday, October 31st. The insurance provider reported $1.06 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.85 by $0.21. American Financial Group had a net margin of 10.22% and a return on equity of 10.90%. The company had revenue of $1.27 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $979.50 million. During the same quarter in the prior year, the firm earned $1.51 EPS. The company’s revenue was up 9.3% compared to the same quarter last year. research analysts forecast that American Financial Group will post 6.05 earnings per share for the current year.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, January 25th. Investors of record on Monday, January 15th will be paid a $0.35 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, January 11th. This represents a $1.40 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 1.28%. American Financial Group’s payout ratio is presently 17.97%.

In related news, CEO S Craig Lindner sold 50,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Wednesday, November 15th. The shares were sold at an average price of $106.21, for a total value of $5,310,500.00. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available through this hyperlink. Also, Director Virginia Drosos sold 1,438 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Friday, December 15th. The shares were sold at an average price of $104.21, for a total transaction of $149,853.98. Following the completion of the transaction, the director now owns 8,034 shares in the company, valued at $837,223.14. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold a total of 201,438 shares of company stock worth $21,166,854 over the last quarter. 14.90% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of AFG. Renaissance Technologies LLC acquired a new stake in American Financial Group in the 1st quarter worth $849,000. Public Employees Retirement Association of Colorado boosted its position in shares of American Financial Group by 1.9% during the 2nd quarter. Public Employees Retirement Association of Colorado now owns 2,210 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $220,000 after acquiring an additional 42 shares in the last quarter. Bessemer Group Inc. acquired a new stake in shares of American Financial Group during the 2nd quarter valued at about $155,000. First Trust Advisors LP boosted its position in shares of American Financial Group by 110.8% during the 2nd quarter. First Trust Advisors LP now owns 123,988 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $12,321,000 after acquiring an additional 65,179 shares in the last quarter. Finally, State of Wisconsin Investment Board boosted its position in shares of American Financial Group by 354.9% during the 2nd quarter. State of Wisconsin Investment Board now owns 62,192 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $6,180,000 after acquiring an additional 48,520 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors own 61.40% of the company’s stock.

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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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