American Financial Group, Inc. (NYSE:AFG) Raised 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 research report released on Thursday, September 14th. The brokerage currently has $112.00 price objective on the insurance provider’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Shares of American Financial have outperformed the industry year to date. The company 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. Consistent price increase in property and casualty business, combined ratio that compares favorably with industry average, 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. Estimates for 2017 and 2018 also moved north over the last 60 days.  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 desired upside in investment results.”

Several other research analysts also recently weighed in on the stock. Buckingham Research assumed coverage on shares of American Financial Group in a research report on Monday, September 11th. They issued a neutral rating and a $103.00 target price on the stock. BidaskClub downgraded shares of American Financial Group from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research report on Friday, August 25th. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, two have issued a hold rating and two have assigned a buy rating to the stock. American Financial Group currently has an average rating of Hold and an average price target of $100.33.

American Financial Group (NYSE:AFG) opened at 102.53 on Thursday. American Financial Group has a 52 week low of $73.38 and a 52 week high of $105.58. The company’s 50 day moving average is $101.90 and its 200 day moving average is $98.92. The stock has a market cap of $9.02 billion, a P/E ratio of 11.56 and a beta of 0.84.

American Financial Group (NYSE:AFG) last released its earnings results 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. The business had revenue of $1.07 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $1.12 billion. American Financial Group had a net margin of 11.89% and a return on equity of 11.66%. The firm’s quarterly revenue was up 3.7% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period last year, the firm posted $1.28 earnings per share. Equities analysts predict that American Financial Group will post $6.77 earnings per share for the current year.

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In related news, insider Michelle A. Gillis sold 2,051 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, August 3rd. The shares were sold at an average price of $104.88, for a total transaction of $215,108.88. Following the completion of the sale, the insider now directly owns 17,939 shares in the company, valued at $1,881,442.32. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, CEO S Craig Lindner sold 25,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, August 3rd. The stock was sold at an average price of $104.27, for a total transaction of $2,606,750.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Company insiders own 14.90% of the company’s stock.

Hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of the stock. Acrospire Investment Management LLC boosted its holdings in shares of American Financial Group by 153.6% during the second quarter. Acrospire Investment Management LLC now owns 1,321 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $131,000 after purchasing an additional 800 shares during the period. Bessemer Group Inc. acquired a new stake in shares of American Financial Group during the second quarter worth approximately $155,000. Quantbot Technologies LP acquired a new stake in shares of American Financial Group during the first quarter worth approximately $154,000. TLP Group LLC acquired a new stake in shares of American Financial Group during the second quarter worth approximately $194,000. Finally, ETRADE Capital Management LLC acquired a new stake in shares of American Financial Group during the second quarter worth approximately $216,000. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 62.33% of the company’s stock.

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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