American Financial Group, Inc. (AFG) Lifted 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 issued on Thursday morning. Zacks Investment Research 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.”

AFG has been the topic of several other research reports. BidaskClub cut shares of American Financial Group from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research note on Friday, August 25th. Buckingham Research initiated coverage on shares of American Financial Group in a research report on Monday, September 11th. They set a neutral rating and a $103.00 target price on the stock. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, two have given a hold rating and two have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock presently has a consensus rating of Hold and an average target price of $99.33.

Shares of American Financial Group (AFG) opened at 100.70 on Thursday. American Financial Group has a 52-week low of $73.38 and a 52-week high of $105.58. The firm’s 50-day moving average price is $101.87 and its 200-day moving average price is $98.77. The stock has a market cap of $8.86 billion, a P/E ratio of 11.35 and a beta of 0.84.

American Financial Group (NYSE:AFG) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, August 1st. The insurance provider reported $1.61 EPS 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 analysts’ expectations of $1.12 billion. American Financial Group had a net margin of 11.89% and a return on equity of 11.66%. The business’s quarterly revenue was up 3.7% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter in the previous year, the company earned $1.28 EPS. Equities analysts predict that American Financial Group will post $6.73 EPS for the current year.

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In other news, CEO Carl H. Lindner III sold 56,353 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, June 20th. The shares were sold at an average price of $102.17, for a total transaction of $5,757,586.01. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available through this link. Also, CEO Carl H. Lindner III sold 47,124 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Monday, June 19th. The shares were sold at an average price of $102.22, for a total transaction of $4,817,015.28. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold a total of 130,528 shares of company stock worth $13,396,460 over the last 90 days. Corporate insiders own 14.90% of the company’s stock.

Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in AFG. BlackRock Inc. raised its position in shares of American Financial Group by 10,325.5% during the 1st 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 in the last quarter. State Street Corp raised its position in shares of American Financial Group by 22.8% during the 2nd quarter. State Street Corp now owns 2,641,452 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $262,481,000 after buying an additional 490,781 shares in the last quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. raised its position in shares of American Financial Group by 7.1% during the 1st 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 in the last quarter. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. raised its position in shares of American Financial Group by 35.0% during the 2nd quarter. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. now owns 913,932 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $90,817,000 after buying an additional 237,195 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings Inc. purchased a new stake in shares of American Financial Group during the 2nd quarter valued at about $20,516,000. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 62.66% 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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