Markel (MKL) Upgraded by Zacks Investment Research to Strong-Buy

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Markel (NYSE:MKL) from a hold rating to a strong-buy rating in a report released on Monday. They currently have $1,361.00 price objective on the insurance provider’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Markel strives to grow via acquisitions and organic initiatives as these not only diversify and strengthen its portfolio but also expand the company’s international footprint. Markel continues to deliver solid results, banking on the strength of its underwriting, investment and Markel Ventures operations. It stands to benefit from insurance, investments and Markel Ventures, which position it well for long-term growth.  It is also judiciously raising rates across all its products. However, escalating expenses weighing on margin expansion also remain a concern for Markel. Shares of Markel have outperformed the industry year to date. The company has not witnessed any earnings momentum for its 2018 and 2019 estimates over the last 60 days.”

Several other research firms have also issued reports on MKL. ValuEngine raised shares of Markel from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report on Thursday, August 2nd. Boenning Scattergood reaffirmed a buy rating on shares of Markel in a research report on Wednesday, August 1st. Three investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating, three have issued a buy rating and one has given a strong buy rating to the company’s stock. Markel presently has an average rating of Buy and a consensus target price of $1,252.75.

Shares of MKL stock opened at $1,184.02 on Monday. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.32, a quick ratio of 0.58 and a current ratio of 0.58. The firm has a market capitalization of $16.50 billion, a PE ratio of 327.07 and a beta of 0.96. Markel has a 12 month low of $1,049.95 and a 12 month high of $1,228.32.

Markel (NYSE:MKL) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, July 31st. The insurance provider reported $19.97 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $8.49 by $11.48. Markel had a net margin of 5.79% and a return on equity of 2.89%. The firm had revenue of $1.88 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $1.68 billion. Analysts anticipate that Markel will post 39.02 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

In other Markel news, CEO Richard R. Whitt III sold 500 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Wednesday, September 5th. The shares were sold at an average price of $1,202.80, for a total transaction of $601,400.00. Following the sale, the chief executive officer now directly owns 10,444 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $12,562,043.20. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through this hyperlink. Also, Vice Chairman Steven A. Markel sold 200 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Thursday, August 2nd. The stock was sold at an average price of $1,190.40, for a total transaction of $238,080.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold 1,400 shares of company stock worth $1,665,455 over the last ninety days. Insiders own 2.46% of the company’s stock.

Several large investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the business. Principal Financial Group Inc. increased its holdings in shares of Markel by 1.0% in the first quarter. Principal Financial Group Inc. now owns 671,504 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $785,828,000 after purchasing an additional 6,453 shares during the last quarter. Baillie Gifford & Co. increased its holdings in shares of Markel by 1.1% in the second quarter. Baillie Gifford & Co. now owns 550,655 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $597,103,000 after purchasing an additional 6,226 shares during the last quarter. Summit Trail Advisors LLC increased its holdings in shares of Markel by 115,809.3% in the first quarter. Summit Trail Advisors LLC now owns 224,864 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $225,000 after purchasing an additional 224,670 shares during the last quarter. Renaissance Technologies LLC increased its holdings in shares of Markel by 10.4% in the second quarter. Renaissance Technologies LLC now owns 199,041 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $215,830,000 after purchasing an additional 18,680 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Bessemer Group Inc. increased its holdings in shares of Markel by 1.5% in the second quarter. Bessemer Group Inc. now owns 184,954 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $200,555,000 after purchasing an additional 2,707 shares during the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 79.03% of the company’s stock.

About Markel

Markel Corporation, a diverse financial holding company, markets and underwrites specialty insurance products in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and internationally. It operates through three segments: U.S. Insurance, International Insurance, and Reinsurance. The U.S. Insurance segment offers general and professional liability, property, personal line, program, and workers' compensation insurance products, as well as other insurance product lines, such as ocean marine, surety, CPI, and coverages.

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