Zacks Investment Research Upgrades W. R. Berkley (NYSE:WRB) to Buy

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of W. R. Berkley (NYSE:WRB) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note published on Saturday morning, Zacks.com reports. Zacks Investment Research currently has $74.00 price target on the insurance provider’s stock.

According to Zacks, “W.R. Berkley’s shares have outperformed its industry year to date. The company has been investing in numerous startups since 2006 and establishing new units in growing international markets provided diversification benefits. Establishing operating units in North and Southeast Asia are also in line with the strategy. It boasts a prudent capital management policy that also enhances shareholders value. The company’s international business has potential for long-term earnings growth. The company witnessed steady net premium growth on the back of rate improvement. However, exposure to a highly competitive reinsurance market and pressure on the rate environment are concerns. Rising debt has been inducing higher interest expenses. Exposure to catastrophe loss inducing volatility in underwriting profitability remains a headwind.”

Other research analysts have also recently issued reports about the company. ValuEngine cut W. R. Berkley from a hold rating to a sell rating in a report on Wednesday, October 2nd. Deutsche Bank cut W. R. Berkley from a hold rating to a sell rating and set a $65.71 price target for the company. in a report on Wednesday, June 26th. Royal Bank of Canada lifted their price target on W. R. Berkley to $68.00 and gave the company a sector perform rating in a report on Wednesday, July 24th. They noted that the move was a valuation call. Buckingham Research lifted their price target on W. R. Berkley from $63.00 to $64.00 and gave the company a neutral rating in a report on Thursday, September 12th. Finally, Morgan Stanley lifted their price target on W. R. Berkley from $63.00 to $73.00 and gave the company an equal weight rating in a report on Wednesday, August 14th. Three analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, four have issued a hold rating and two have assigned a buy rating to the company. The company has an average rating of Hold and a consensus target price of $65.63.

Shares of NYSE WRB opened at $67.85 on Friday. The stock has a market cap of $13.03 billion, a PE ratio of 25.41, a PEG ratio of 2.77 and a beta of 0.68. The business has a fifty day moving average of $71.47 and a two-hundred day moving average of $66.70. W. R. Berkley has a 52-week low of $45.91 and a 52-week high of $73.26. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.46, a quick ratio of 0.48 and a current ratio of 0.48.

W. R. Berkley (NYSE:WRB) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Tuesday, July 23rd. The insurance provider reported $0.82 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.64 by $0.18. The company had revenue of $1.65 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $1.63 billion. W. R. Berkley had a return on equity of 10.55% and a net margin of 8.81%. The business’s revenue was up 4.2% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period last year, the business earned $1.40 earnings per share. Analysts predict that W. R. Berkley will post 2.85 earnings per share for the current year.

The firm also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Thursday, October 3rd. Investors of record on Thursday, September 19th were issued a $0.11 dividend. The ex-dividend date was Wednesday, September 18th. This represents a $0.44 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 0.65%. W. R. Berkley’s dividend payout ratio is 16.48%.

Several institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. BlackRock Inc. increased its position in W. R. Berkley by 61.0% in the second quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 19,067,342 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $1,257,109,000 after purchasing an additional 7,221,477 shares during the period. Vanguard Group Inc. increased its position in W. R. Berkley by 53.2% in the second quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 14,922,965 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $983,872,000 after purchasing an additional 5,180,855 shares during the period. Atlanta Capital Management Co. L L C increased its position in W. R. Berkley by 36.3% in the second quarter. Atlanta Capital Management Co. L L C now owns 10,897,169 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $718,450,000 after purchasing an additional 2,899,769 shares during the period. Janus Henderson Group PLC increased its position in W. R. Berkley by 51.4% in the second quarter. Janus Henderson Group PLC now owns 7,106,715 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $468,545,000 after purchasing an additional 2,412,693 shares during the period. Finally, Boston Partners increased its position in W. R. Berkley by 55.3% in the second quarter. Boston Partners now owns 3,861,737 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $254,643,000 after purchasing an additional 1,374,347 shares during the period. 70.69% of the stock is 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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