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

Markel (NYSE:MKL) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “strong-buy” rating in a research note issued on Wednesday, Zacks.com reports. The firm currently has a $1,185.00 price target on the insurance provider’s stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s target price would suggest a potential upside of 15.02% from the company’s current price.

According to Zacks, “Markel strives to grow via acquisitions and organic initiatives as these not only diversify and strengthen its portfolio but also expand its international footprint. Solid performance at Insurance and Reinsurance segments of Markel should drive premiums. The company stands to benefit from its niche focus and effective management of insurance risk. Markel is banking on the strength of its underwriting, investment and Markel Ventures operations, which position it well for long-term growth. It boasts a sturdy capital position, which enables it to deploy capital effectively via share repurchases. Its shares have underperformed the industry in a year's time. However, escalating expenses due to higher underwriting and acquisition costs continues to put strain on margin. Also, exposure to catastrophe loss is likely to induce underwriting volatility.”

A number of other research analysts have also commented on the company. SunTrust Banks increased their price objective on Markel from $1,000.00 to $1,050.00 and gave the company a “hold” rating in a research report on Thursday, July 30th. Boenning Scattergood restated an “outperform” rating on shares of Markel in a research report on Tuesday, July 21st. TheStreet upgraded Markel from a “c+” rating to a “b-” rating in a research report on Friday, August 28th. Finally, Deutsche Bank raised their price target on Markel from $895.00 to $925.00 and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a research report on Thursday, July 30th. Three equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating, two 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 $1,102.50.

MKL traded down $16.17 during mid-day trading on Wednesday, reaching $1,030.23. The stock had a trading volume of 46,471 shares, compared to its average volume of 53,559. The stock has a market capitalization of $14.19 billion, a P/E ratio of 67.07 and a beta of 0.66. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.33, a quick ratio of 0.68 and a current ratio of 0.68. The firm’s fifty day simple moving average is $1,070.18 and its two-hundred day simple moving average is $971.85. Markel has a 52 week low of $710.52 and a 52 week high of $1,347.64.

Markel (NYSE:MKL) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Tuesday, July 28th. The insurance provider reported $13.66 EPS for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $8.70 by $4.96. The firm had revenue of $2.22 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $2.17 billion. Markel had a return on equity of 3.31% and a net margin of 2.66%. As a group, analysts expect that Markel will post 17.68 EPS for the current fiscal year.

Several large investors have recently bought and sold shares of the company. Amundi Pioneer Asset Management Inc. lifted its holdings in Markel by 0.6% during the first quarter. Amundi Pioneer Asset Management Inc. now owns 9,658 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $9,622,000 after acquiring an additional 56 shares in the last quarter. Comerica Bank lifted its holdings in Markel by 5.9% during the first quarter. Comerica Bank now owns 542 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $477,000 after acquiring an additional 30 shares in the last quarter. Rhumbline Advisers lifted its holdings in Markel by 4.4% during the first quarter. Rhumbline Advisers now owns 14,490 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $13,445,000 after acquiring an additional 612 shares in the last quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp lifted its holdings in Markel by 2.8% during the first quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp now owns 50,696 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $47,040,000 after acquiring an additional 1,364 shares in the last quarter. Finally, AE Wealth Management LLC lifted its holdings in Markel by 15.8% during the first quarter. AE Wealth Management LLC now owns 220 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $204,000 after acquiring an additional 30 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 76.19% of the company’s stock.

Markel Company Profile

Markel Corporation, a diverse financial holding company, markets and underwrites specialty insurance products in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and internationally. Its Insurance segment offers general and professional liability, property, personal lines, marine and energy, specialty programs, and workers' compensation insurance products.

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