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

Zacks Investment Research lowered 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. The firm currently has $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.”

Several other analysts also recently issued reports on the company. 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 price target (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 price target for the company in a report on Tuesday, April 14th. Morgan Stanley lowered their price target on W. R. Berkley from $78.00 to $60.00 and set an equal weight rating for the company in a report on Wednesday, April 1st. Finally, ValuEngine upgraded W. R. Berkley from a sell rating to a hold rating in a research note on Wednesday, March 18th. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, five have issued a hold rating and three have issued a buy rating to the stock. The company currently has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $61.50.

WRB stock opened at $56.48 on Friday. The company has a market cap of $10.09 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 21.98 and a beta of 0.81. The company has a quick ratio of 0.36, a current ratio of 0.36 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.48. The business has a fifty day simple moving average of $56.70 and a 200-day simple moving average of $62.22. W. R. Berkley has a 52 week low of $43.05 and a 52 week high of $79.92.

W. R. Berkley (NYSE:WRB) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, April 21st. The insurance provider reported $0.69 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, missing the 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 company had revenue of $1.69 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $1.74 billion. During the same quarter in the prior year, the company posted $0.66 earnings per share. The firm’s revenue for the quarter was up 6.2% on a year-over-year basis. As a group, analysts expect that W. R. Berkley will post 2.56 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Tuesday, June 30th. Stockholders of record on Tuesday, June 23rd were paid a dividend of $0.12 per share. The ex-dividend date was Monday, June 22nd. 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%. W. R. Berkley’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is currently 15.84%.

Several hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of WRB. Amundi Pioneer Asset Management Inc. lifted its position in shares of W. R. Berkley by 70.3% during the first quarter. Amundi Pioneer Asset Management Inc. now owns 114,954 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $6,494,000 after purchasing an additional 47,470 shares during the last quarter. FMR LLC lifted its position in shares of W. R. Berkley by 16.0% during the fourth quarter. FMR LLC now owns 6,631 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $458,000 after purchasing an additional 913 shares during the last quarter. Private Advisor Group LLC bought a new position in shares of W. R. Berkley during the fourth quarter worth about $738,000. First Allied Advisory Services Inc. lifted its position in shares of W. R. Berkley by 13.8% during the fourth quarter. First Allied Advisory Services Inc. now owns 5,548 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $382,000 after purchasing an additional 674 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Banque Cantonale Vaudoise bought a new position in shares of W. R. Berkley during the fourth quarter worth about $501,000. 71.97% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

W. R. Berkley Company Profile

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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Analyst Recommendations for W. R. Berkley (NYSE:WRB)

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