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

Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of W. R. Berkley (NYSE:WRB) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a report released on Saturday morning, Zacks.com reports. They currently have $60.00 price objective on the insurance provider’s stock.

According to Zacks, “W.R. Berkley has been consistently benefitting from its insurance business, which has been performing well on increase in premium written over the past many years. The company has been investing in numerous startups since 2006 and establishing new units in growing international markets. The insurer witnessed steady net premium growth on the back of rate improvement. Solid capital position enables the company to deploy capital effectively via share repurchase and dividend hikes. Shares of W.R. Berkley have outperformed the industry year to date. However, exposure to a highly competitive reinsurance market concern. Rising debt induces higher interest expenses and lower times interest earned concern. IT and data-related initiatives will continue and lead to an increase in expenses Exposure to cat loss has been inducing volatility in earnings.”

A number of other brokerages have also recently weighed in on WRB. ValuEngine raised W. R. Berkley from a sell rating to a hold rating in a research note on Wednesday, March 18th. Deutsche Bank upgraded W. R. Berkley from a sell rating to a hold rating in a report on Sunday, April 19th. Royal Bank of Canada reiterated a buy rating and issued a $68.00 target price (down from $82.00) on shares of W. R. Berkley in a report on Wednesday, April 8th. UBS Group upgraded W. R. Berkley to a hold rating and set a $57.00 target price for the company in a report on Tuesday, April 14th. Finally, TheStreet lowered W. R. Berkley from a b- rating to a c rating in a report on Tuesday, April 21st. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, five have issued a hold rating and three have assigned a buy rating to the company. The company has a consensus rating of Hold and an average price target of $61.50.

Shares of NYSE WRB opened at $56.48 on Friday. W. R. Berkley has a twelve month low of $43.05 and a twelve month high of $79.92. The company has a current ratio of 0.36, a quick ratio of 0.36 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.48. The stock has a fifty day simple moving average of $56.70 and a 200-day simple moving average of $62.22. The stock has a market capitalization of $10.09 billion, a PE ratio of 21.98 and a beta of 0.81.

W. R. Berkley (NYSE:WRB) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Tuesday, April 21st. The insurance provider reported $0.69 earnings per share for the quarter, missing the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.73 by ($0.04). W. R. Berkley had a net margin of 6.39% and a return on equity of 9.97%. The firm had revenue of $1.69 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $1.74 billion. During the same period in the previous year, the firm posted $0.66 earnings per share. The company’s quarterly revenue was up 6.2% compared to the same quarter last year. On average, equities analysts predict that W. R. Berkley will post 2.56 earnings per share for the current year.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Tuesday, June 30th. Stockholders of record on Tuesday, June 23rd were issued a $0.12 dividend. This is an increase from W. R. Berkley’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.11. This represents a $0.48 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 0.85%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Monday, June 22nd. W. R. Berkley’s payout ratio is presently 15.84%.

Several institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the company. Janus Henderson Group PLC lifted its holdings in shares of W. R. Berkley by 0.4% in the 4th quarter. Janus Henderson Group PLC now owns 7,205,885 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $497,926,000 after purchasing an additional 29,986 shares during the last quarter. APG Asset Management N.V. increased its position in W. R. Berkley by 57.2% in the 1st quarter. APG Asset Management N.V. now owns 2,998,574 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $156,436,000 after acquiring an additional 1,090,900 shares during the period. Geode Capital Management LLC increased its position in W. R. Berkley by 2.5% in the 1st quarter. Geode Capital Management LLC now owns 2,799,617 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $146,029,000 after acquiring an additional 68,146 shares during the period. Victory Capital Management Inc. increased its position in W. R. Berkley by 3.9% in the 1st quarter. Victory Capital Management Inc. now owns 2,495,060 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $130,167,000 after acquiring an additional 93,982 shares during the period. Finally, JPMorgan Chase & Co. increased its position in W. R. Berkley by 3.7% in the 1st quarter. JPMorgan Chase & Co. now owns 2,267,509 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $118,296,000 after acquiring an additional 80,999 shares during the period. 71.97% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

About W. R. Berkley

W. R. Berkley Corporation, an insurance holding company, operates as a commercial lines writer in the United States and internationally. It operates through two segments, Insurance and Reinsurance. The Insurance segment underwrites commercial insurance business, including premises operations, commercial automobile, property, products liability, and professional liability lines.

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