Universal Insurance (NYSE:UVE) Upgraded to Buy at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Universal Insurance (NYSE:UVE) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report released on Wednesday morning, Zacks.com reports. The brokerage currently has $17.00 price objective on the insurance provider’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Universal Insurance Holdings, Inc., through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company (UPCIC), is currently engaged in insurance underwriting, distribution and claims. UPCIC generates revenue from the collection and investment of premiums. The Company’s agency operations which include Universal Florida Insurance Agency and U.S. Insurance Solutions, Inc. generate income from policy fees, commissions, premium financing referral fees and the marketing of ancillary services. “

Universal Insurance stock opened at $15.70 on Wednesday. Universal Insurance has a twelve month low of $12.62 and a twelve month high of $16.57. The stock’s fifty day moving average is $14.03. The company has a quick ratio of 0.53, a current ratio of 0.53 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.01. The stock has a market capitalization of $489.34 million, a price-to-earnings ratio of 9.75 and a beta of 1.07.

Universal Insurance (NYSE:UVE) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, October 27th. The insurance provider reported $0.63 earnings per share for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.50 by $0.13. Universal Insurance had a return on equity of 8.63% and a net margin of 4.61%. During the same quarter last year, the company earned ($1.43) EPS. On average, equities research analysts expect that Universal Insurance will post 2.43 EPS for the current year.

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, December 17th. Stockholders of record on Friday, December 10th will be given a dividend of $0.29 per share. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, December 9th. This represents a $1.16 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 7.39%. This is a positive change from Universal Insurance’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.16. Universal Insurance’s dividend payout ratio is currently 39.75%.

In related news, Director Sean P. Downes sold 20,000 shares of the stock in a transaction on Wednesday, September 1st. The stock was sold at an average price of $13.91, for a total value of $278,200.00. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available at the SEC website. Corporate insiders own 17.00% of the company’s stock.

A number of large investors have recently bought and sold shares of UVE. Amundi Pioneer Asset Management Inc. increased its holdings in Universal Insurance by 9.3% in the first quarter. Amundi Pioneer Asset Management Inc. now owns 100,596 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $3,119,000 after buying an additional 8,577 shares during the last quarter. Thrivent Financial for Lutherans grew its holdings in shares of Universal Insurance by 33.0% during the first quarter. Thrivent Financial for Lutherans now owns 31,380 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $450,000 after purchasing an additional 7,778 shares during the last quarter. Royal Bank of Canada grew its holdings in shares of Universal Insurance by 11.4% during the first quarter. Royal Bank of Canada now owns 93,576 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $1,342,000 after purchasing an additional 9,574 shares during the last quarter. AQR Capital Management LLC grew its holdings in shares of Universal Insurance by 120.4% during the first quarter. AQR Capital Management LLC now owns 71,817 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $1,030,000 after purchasing an additional 39,230 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Jane Street Group LLC purchased a new position in shares of Universal Insurance during the first quarter worth about $215,000. 64.44% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

About Universal Insurance

Universal Insurance Holdings, Inc operates as a holding company offering property and casualty insurance and value-added insurance services. It develops, markets and underwrites insurance products for consumers in the personal residential homeowners lines of business and perform substantially all other insurance-related services for primary insurance entities, including risk management, claims management, and distribution.

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