W. R. Berkley (NYSE:WRB) Rating Lowered to Hold at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of W. R. Berkley (NYSE:WRB) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research report sent to investors on Tuesday morning, Zacks.com reports. They currently have $76.00 price target on the insurance provider’s stock.

According to Zacks, “W.R. Berkley has been consistently benefiting from its insurance business, performing well on increase in premium written over the past many years. W.R. Berkley has been investing in numerous startups since 2006 and establishing new units in growing international markets. Its international business is poised for growth supported by the emerging markets. Solid capital position enables capital deployment. Investment in alternative assets should help improve investment income. Shares have underperformed the industry in the year-to-date period. However, exposure to a highly competitive reinsurance market is a concern. Rising debt induces higher interest expenses and is an overhang on times interest earned. 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 research analysts have also recently issued reports on the stock. Bank of America upgraded shares of W. R. Berkley from an underperform rating to a neutral rating and boosted their price objective for the company from $80.00 to $86.00 in a report on Thursday, August 19th. They noted that the move was a valuation call. Royal Bank of Canada decreased their price objective on shares of W. R. Berkley from $90.00 to $88.00 and set an outperform rating for the company in a report on Friday, July 23rd. Boenning Scattergood upgraded shares of W. R. Berkley from a neutral rating to an outperform rating and set a $87.00 price target for the company in a report on Monday. Finally, Wolfe Research began coverage on shares of W. R. Berkley in a report on Monday, August 16th. They issued a market perform rating and a $76.00 price target for the company. Six analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and five have given a buy rating to the stock. According to data from MarketBeat, W. R. Berkley has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus target price of $81.55.

WRB opened at $71.72 on Tuesday. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.44, a current ratio of 0.41 and a quick ratio of 0.41. The company has a market cap of $12.73 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 14.40, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.80 and a beta of 0.85. The firm has a 50 day simple moving average of $74.13 and a 200 day simple moving average of $76.10. W. R. Berkley has a fifty-two week low of $58.84 and a fifty-two week high of $82.43.

W. R. Berkley (NYSE:WRB) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, July 21st. The insurance provider reported $1.17 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.00 by $0.17. The business had revenue of $1.97 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $1.90 billion. W. R. Berkley had a net margin of 10.57% and a return on equity of 11.27%. W. R. Berkley’s revenue for the quarter was up 17.6% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period in the previous year, the firm posted $0.38 earnings per share. As a group, analysts expect that W. R. Berkley will post 4.44 EPS for the current year.

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Wednesday, September 29th. Stockholders of record on Wednesday, September 15th will be given a $0.13 dividend. This represents a $0.52 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 0.73%. The ex-dividend date is Tuesday, September 14th. W. R. Berkley’s payout ratio is presently 22.41%.

Several institutional investors and hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of WRB. Maverick Capital Ltd. acquired a new position in shares of W. R. Berkley in the second quarter valued at about $36,000. Quadrant Capital Group LLC grew its stake in shares of W. R. Berkley by 174.2% in the first quarter. Quadrant Capital Group LLC now owns 595 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $45,000 after acquiring an additional 378 shares in the last quarter. Capital Analysts LLC acquired a new position in shares of W. R. Berkley in the second quarter valued at about $45,000. Deseret Mutual Benefit Administrators acquired a new position in shares of W. R. Berkley in the second quarter valued at about $66,000. Finally, HM Payson & Co. acquired a new stake in W. R. Berkley during the second quarter worth about $102,000. 68.24% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

About W. R. Berkley

W.R. Berkley Corp. is an insurance holding company, which engages in the property casualty insurance business. It operates through the following segments: Insurance and Reinsurance & Monoline Excess. The Insurance segment includes excess and surplus lines, admitted lines, and specialty personal lines throughout the United States, as well as insurance business in the United Kingdom, Continental Europe, South America, Canada, Mexico, Scandinavia, Asia and Australia.

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