Mercury General Co. (NYSE:MCY) Sees Large Decline in Short Interest

Mercury General Co. (NYSE:MCY) saw a large drop in short interest during the month of July. As of July 31st, there was short interest totalling 708,200 shares, a drop of 19.2% from the June 30th total of 876,000 shares. Approximately 2.6% of the shares of the stock are sold short. Based on an average daily volume of 250,500 shares, the short-interest ratio is presently 2.8 days.

Several equities analysts have recently issued reports on MCY shares. TheStreet upgraded Mercury General from a “c” rating to a “b” rating in a research note on Tuesday, April 30th. ValuEngine lowered Mercury General from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Wednesday, July 31st. Finally, Zacks Investment Research lowered Mercury General from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Friday, July 26th.

In other news, VP Charles Toney sold 600 shares of Mercury General stock in a transaction on Friday, June 14th. The stock was sold at an average price of $60.45, for a total value of $36,270.00. Following the transaction, the vice president now owns 11,803 shares in the company, valued at approximately $713,491.35. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is available at the SEC website. Company insiders own 34.20% of the company’s stock.

A number of hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of the stock. BlackRock Inc. grew its position in Mercury General by 0.6% during the 2nd quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 2,432,470 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $152,029,000 after acquiring an additional 14,356 shares during the last quarter. Renaissance Technologies LLC grew its position in Mercury General by 13.3% during the 2nd quarter. Renaissance Technologies LLC now owns 1,719,800 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $107,488,000 after acquiring an additional 202,500 shares during the last quarter. Invesco Ltd. grew its position in Mercury General by 7.9% during the 2nd quarter. Invesco Ltd. now owns 1,649,262 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $103,079,000 after acquiring an additional 121,421 shares during the last quarter. Westwood Holdings Group Inc. grew its position in shares of Mercury General by 27.2% in the 1st quarter. Westwood Holdings Group Inc. now owns 974,440 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $48,790,000 after buying an additional 208,274 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Vaughan Nelson Investment Management L.P. bought a new stake in shares of Mercury General in the 1st quarter valued at about $43,981,000. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 43.76% of the company’s stock.

MCY stock traded up $0.37 during midday trading on Thursday, reaching $52.91. 187,100 shares of the stock were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 341,240. The company has a market cap of $3.00 billion, a PE ratio of 29.32, a PEG ratio of 0.45 and a beta of 0.25. Mercury General has a 52 week low of $47.96 and a 52 week high of $65.22. The company has a quick ratio of 0.42, a current ratio of 0.42 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.21. The firm has a fifty day moving average of $60.63.

Mercury General (NYSE:MCY) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Monday, July 29th. The insurance provider reported $0.74 earnings per share for the quarter, missing analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.91 by ($0.17). The firm had revenue of $936.10 million for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $922.34 million. Mercury General had a return on equity of 7.97% and a net margin of 5.28%. The company’s revenue was up 6.6% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the prior year, the firm earned $0.88 EPS. As a group, sell-side analysts expect that Mercury General will post 3.19 EPS for the current year.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, September 26th. Investors of record on Thursday, September 12th will be given a dividend of $0.6275 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Wednesday, September 11th. This represents a $2.51 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 4.74%. Mercury General’s dividend payout ratio is currently 139.44%.

Mercury General Company Profile

Mercury General Corporation, together with its subsidiaries, engages in writing personal automobile insurance in the United States. The company also writes homeowners, commercial automobile, commercial property, mechanical protection, fire, and umbrella insurance. Its automobile insurance products cover collision, property damage, bodily injury, comprehensive, personal injury protection, underinsured and uninsured motorist, and other hazards; and homeowners' insurance products cover dwelling, liability, personal property, fire, and other hazards.

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