American Financial Group (AFG) Raised to Buy at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of American Financial Group (NYSE:AFG) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report issued on Thursday morning. They currently have $124.00 price objective on the insurance provider’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Shares of American Financial have outperformed the industry year to date. The company 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. Investment income has also been rising and the company expects the same to increase 4-6% in 2018. 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. The company estimates operating earnings in the range of $7.90-$8.40 per share in 2018. However, exposure to cat loss is a risk to underwriting results. The company is expected to report fist quarter earnings in the first week of May. A Zacks Rank #3 combined with Earnings ESP of +2.40% makes up confident of an positive surprise.”

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Other research analysts also recently issued research reports about the company. ValuEngine raised American Financial Group from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note on Friday, February 2nd. Bank of America lifted their price target on American Financial Group from $120.00 to $122.00 and gave the stock a buy rating in a research note on Thursday, February 1st. Finally, Sandler O’Neill reaffirmed a buy rating and set a $119.00 price target on shares of American Financial Group in a research note on Wednesday, January 10th. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, two have given a hold rating and three have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock currently has an average rating of Hold and an average price target of $117.00.

NYSE:AFG opened at $110.58 on Thursday. The firm has a market cap of $9,878.06, a PE ratio of 16.88, a PEG ratio of 0.87 and a beta of 0.78. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.24, a current ratio of 0.18 and a quick ratio of 0.18. American Financial Group has a 52-week low of $93.25 and a 52-week high of $121.69.

American Financial Group (NYSE:AFG) last released its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, January 31st. The insurance provider reported $2.20 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $1.67 by $0.53. The business had revenue of $1.23 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $1.11 billion. American Financial Group had a return on equity of 11.09% and a net margin of 6.92%. The business’s revenue was up 7.1% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the previous year, the company posted $1.98 EPS. analysts expect that American Financial Group will post 8.24 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Wednesday, April 25th. Stockholders of record on Friday, April 13th will be paid a dividend of $0.35 per share. This represents a $1.40 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 1.27%. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, April 12th. American Financial Group’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 21.37%.

In related news, VP Vito C. Peraino sold 51,000 shares of American Financial Group stock in a transaction dated Monday, February 5th. The stock was sold at an average price of $113.86, for a total transaction of $5,806,860.00. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this link. Also, insider John B. Berding sold 5,285 shares of American Financial Group stock in a transaction dated Thursday, March 22nd. The stock was sold at an average price of $113.58, for a total value of $600,270.30. Following the sale, the insider now owns 59,585 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $6,767,664.30. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Company insiders own 14.90% of the company’s stock.

A number of institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of AFG. Janus Henderson Group PLC increased its position in American Financial Group by 166.0% during the 3rd quarter. Janus Henderson Group PLC now owns 482,671 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $49,931,000 after purchasing an additional 301,200 shares in the last quarter. Schroder Investment Management Group grew its holdings in American Financial Group by 59.0% in the 4th quarter. Schroder Investment Management Group now owns 632,957 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $68,701,000 after buying an additional 234,900 shares during the period. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. grew its holdings in American Financial Group by 21.2% in the 4th quarter. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. now owns 878,626 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $95,366,000 after buying an additional 153,971 shares during the period. APG Asset Management N.V. grew its holdings in American Financial Group by 43.6% in the 4th quarter. APG Asset Management N.V. now owns 420,700 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $38,027,000 after buying an additional 127,800 shares during the period. Finally, Investec Asset Management LTD grew its holdings in American Financial Group by 10.5% in the 4th quarter. Investec Asset Management LTD now owns 1,294,622 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $140,518,000 after buying an additional 123,436 shares during the period. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 62.32% of the company’s stock.

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About American Financial Group

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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