W. R. Berkley (WRB) Downgraded by Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research cut shares of W. R. Berkley (NYSE:WRB) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a report issued on Saturday morning.

According to Zacks, “Shares of W.R. Berkley underperformed the industry in a year's time. The company also witnessed its estimates moved south in the last 60 days. Exposures to highly competitive insurance market and cat loss are dampeners. Rising expenses has been weighing on margin expansion.  Nonetheless, W.R. Berkley has been investing in a number of startups since 2006 as well as establishing new units, enabling 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 a strong capital position are other positives.”

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Several other research firms have also issued reports on WRB. Royal Bank of Canada reissued a hold rating on shares of W. R. Berkley in a research note on Wednesday, January 31st. Boenning Scattergood reissued a hold rating on shares of W. R. Berkley in a research note on Wednesday, January 31st. Three investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating and seven have issued a hold rating to the company. The company has a consensus rating of Hold and an average price target of $70.38.

Shares of W. R. Berkley stock opened at $72.27 on Friday. W. R. Berkley has a 52 week low of $62.00 and a 52 week high of $74.43. The firm has a market capitalization of $8,775.33, a PE ratio of 29.35, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 2.24 and a beta of 0.78. The company has a current ratio of 0.36, a quick ratio of 0.36 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.46.

W. R. Berkley (NYSE:WRB) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, January 30th. The insurance provider reported $0.76 EPS for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.73 by $0.03. W. R. Berkley had a return on equity of 5.89% and a net margin of 7.15%. The business had revenue of $1.77 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $1.75 billion. equities analysts forecast that W. R. Berkley will post 3.58 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Monday, April 2nd. Investors of record on Wednesday, March 14th were paid a dividend of $0.14 per share. This represents a $0.56 annualized dividend and a yield of 0.77%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Tuesday, March 13th. W. R. Berkley’s payout ratio is 22.76%.

A number of institutional investors and hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of the stock. Retirement Systems of Alabama lifted its stake in W. R. Berkley by 0.4% during the 4th quarter. Retirement Systems of Alabama now owns 219,416 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $15,721,000 after acquiring an additional 796 shares in the last quarter. Meadow Creek Investment Management LLC lifted its stake in W. R. Berkley by 15.7% during the 4th quarter. Meadow Creek Investment Management LLC now owns 6,128 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $439,000 after acquiring an additional 832 shares in the last quarter. Profund Advisors LLC increased its holdings in W. R. Berkley by 8.5% during the 4th quarter. Profund Advisors LLC now owns 11,418 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $818,000 after purchasing an additional 890 shares during the period. GHP Investment Advisors Inc. increased its holdings in W. R. Berkley by 3.1% during the 4th quarter. GHP Investment Advisors Inc. now owns 30,714 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $2,201,000 after purchasing an additional 929 shares during the period. Finally, Comerica Bank increased its holdings in W. R. Berkley by 1.2% during the 4th quarter. Comerica Bank now owns 76,496 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $5,492,000 after purchasing an additional 942 shares during the period. 72.12% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

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About W. R. Berkley

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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Analyst Recommendations for W. R. Berkley (NYSE:WRB)

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