American Financial Group (NYSE:AFG) Lowered to “Hold” at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of American Financial Group (NYSE:AFG) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a report released on Wednesday, reports. Zacks Investment Research currently has $112.00 price target on the insurance provider’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Shares of American Financial have outperformed the industry year to date. It is well-poised to benefit from impressive inorganic growth and is thus prudently investing in businesses it is knowledgeable about. The recent deal between National Interstate, its commercial transportation specialist subsidiary and Atlas Financial to be the exclusive underwriter the latter’s paratransit business bears the testimony to the same.  Consistent price increase in Property and Casualty business should favor results. Better industry fundamentals with strong pricing and a higher renewal ratio should drive overall growth. A strong balance sheet, low leverage cost and an efficient capital management are tailwinds. It expects operating earnings in the range of $8.35-$8.85 in 2019. However, soft Annuity business and exposure to catastrophe  loss are concerns.”

A number of other analysts also recently commented on AFG. Buckingham Research raised shares of American Financial Group from a neutral rating to a buy rating and set a $120.00 price objective on the stock in a report on Thursday, June 13th. ValuEngine upgraded shares of USINAS SIDERURG/S from a sell rating to a hold rating in a research report on Wednesday, May 29th.

Shares of NYSE:AFG opened at $105.22 on Wednesday. The stock has a market capitalization of $9.42 billion, a P/E ratio of 12.53, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.98 and a beta of 0.87. The company has a 50-day moving average price of $102.34. The company has a current ratio of 0.15, a quick ratio of 0.15 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.25. American Financial Group has a fifty-two week low of $84.18 and a fifty-two week high of $115.00.

American Financial Group (NYSE:AFG) last issued its earnings results on Wednesday, May 1st. The insurance provider reported $2.02 earnings per share for the quarter, missing the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $2.05 by ($0.03). The firm had revenue of $1.17 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $1.23 billion. American Financial Group had a net margin of 9.45% and a return on equity of 13.90%. The firm’s revenue was up 6.0% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period in the previous year, the firm earned $2.42 EPS. As a group, sell-side analysts forecast that American Financial Group will post 8.67 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, July 25th. Shareholders of record on Monday, July 15th will be given a dividend of $0.40 per share. This represents a $1.60 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 1.52%. The ex-dividend date is Friday, July 12th. American Financial Group’s payout ratio is currently 19.05%.

In other American Financial Group news, Director James E. Evans sold 2,000 shares of American Financial Group stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, May 29th. The shares were sold at an average price of $98.77, for a total transaction of $197,540.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the director now owns 132,309 shares in the company, valued at $13,068,159.93. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is accessible through this hyperlink. Also, CEO Carl H. Lindner III sold 100,000 shares of American Financial Group stock in a transaction dated Thursday, June 20th. The stock was sold at an average price of $103.81, for a total transaction of $10,381,000.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last 90 days, insiders have sold 398,413 shares of company stock valued at $40,950,043. 11.90% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

Institutional investors and hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in the business. Victory Capital Management Inc. grew its stake in American Financial Group by 11.6% during the first quarter. Victory Capital Management Inc. now owns 2,461,534 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $236,823,000 after buying an additional 256,593 shares during the period. LSV Asset Management increased its holdings in shares of American Financial Group by 10.5% in the 1st quarter. LSV Asset Management now owns 1,401,863 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $134,873,000 after acquiring an additional 133,000 shares during the period. Bank of New York Mellon Corp increased its holdings in shares of American Financial Group by 4.6% in the 4th quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp now owns 995,431 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $90,117,000 after acquiring an additional 44,207 shares during the period. Norges Bank bought a new position in American Financial Group in the 4th quarter valued at about $77,768,000. Finally, Geode Capital Management LLC grew its position in American Financial Group by 19.5% in the 4th quarter. Geode Capital Management LLC now owns 839,208 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $75,925,000 after buying an additional 136,789 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors own 63.17% of the company’s stock.

About American Financial Group

American Financial Group, Inc, an insurance holding company, provides property and casualty insurance products in the United States. The company operates through three segments: Property and Casualty Insurance, Annuity, and Other. It offers property and transportation insurance products, such as physical damage and liability coverage for buses, trucks and recreational vehicles, inland and ocean marine, agricultural-related products, and other property; specialty casualty insurance, including primarily excess and surplus, general liability, executive liability, professional liability, umbrella and excess liability, and specialty coverage in targeted markets, as well as customized programs for small to mid-sized businesses and workers' compensation insurance; and specialty financial insurance products comprising risk management insurance programs for leasing and financing institutions, surety and fidelity products, and trade credit insurance.

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