American Financial Group, Inc. (NYSE:AFG) Rating Increased to Buy at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of American Financial Group, Inc. (NYSE:AFG) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report released on Monday morning. Zacks Investment Research currently has $117.00 price target on the insurance provider’s stock.

According to Zacks, “American Financial’s second-quarter earnings beat estimates. Higher operating earnings in both Specialty Property and Casualty (P&C) Insurance Segment and Annuity Segment drove the upside. Shares of American Financial have outperformed the industry since it posted better-than-expected earnings. It 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. A strong balance sheet, low leverage cost, and disciplined capital management are positives. Based on strong operational performance, it raised core net operating earnings of $6.40–$6.90 per share in 2017. However, American Financial’s exposure to cat loss is a risk to underwriting results. A still soft interest rate environment is expected to weigh on investment results.”

Separately, BidaskClub cut American Financial Group from a buy rating to a hold rating in a report on Saturday, June 24th. Two analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and three have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock presently has a consensus rating of Buy and a consensus price target of $93.67.

American Financial Group (NYSE AFG) traded down 0.08% during trading on Monday, hitting $104.79. The stock had a trading volume of 51,878 shares. The firm has a market cap of $9.18 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 11.81 and a beta of 0.83. American Financial Group has a 1-year low of $72.14 and a 1-year high of $104.85. The firm’s 50 day moving average is $100.56 and its 200 day moving average is $96.20.

American Financial Group (NYSE:AFG) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Tuesday, August 1st. The insurance provider reported $1.61 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $1.30 by $0.31. American Financial Group had a return on equity of 11.75% and a net margin of 11.89%. The business had revenue of $1.07 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $1.12 billion. During the same quarter in the previous year, the firm earned $1.28 EPS. The firm’s revenue was up 3.7% compared to the same quarter last year. On average, analysts anticipate that American Financial Group will post $6.73 earnings per share for the current year.

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The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Tuesday, July 25th. Shareholders of record on Friday, July 14th were issued a $0.3125 dividend. The ex-dividend date was Wednesday, July 12th. This represents a $1.25 annualized dividend and a yield of 1.19%. American Financial Group’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is 14.06%.

In other American Financial Group news, insider Michelle A. Gillis sold 2,051 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, August 3rd. The stock was sold at an average price of $104.88, for a total value of $215,108.88. Following the completion of the transaction, the insider now owns 17,939 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $1,881,442.32. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available at this hyperlink. Also, insider John B. Berding sold 27,999 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, May 10th. The shares were sold at an average price of $97.95, for a total value of $2,742,502.05. Following the completion of the transaction, the insider now directly owns 61,143 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $5,988,956.85. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last ninety days, insiders sold 375,791 shares of company stock valued at $37,654,427. Insiders own 13.70% of the company’s stock.

A number of institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the stock. Vanguard Group Inc. boosted its position in American Financial Group by 7.1% in the first quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 6,517,519 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $621,902,000 after buying an additional 431,262 shares during the period. BlackRock Inc. boosted its position in American Financial Group by 10,325.5% in the first quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 5,915,732 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $564,476,000 after buying an additional 5,858,989 shares during the period. Victory Capital Management Inc. boosted its position in American Financial Group by 1.8% in the second quarter. Victory Capital Management Inc. now owns 2,135,790 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $212,234,000 after buying an additional 37,752 shares during the period. AQR Capital Management LLC boosted its position in American Financial Group by 0.6% in the first quarter. AQR Capital Management LLC now owns 1,334,072 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $127,297,000 after buying an additional 7,997 shares during the period. Finally, Investec Asset Management LTD boosted its position in American Financial Group by 6.5% in the first quarter. Investec Asset Management LTD now owns 1,160,823 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $110,766,000 after buying an additional 70,548 shares during the period. 62.33% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

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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