W. R. Berkley (WRB) Stock Rating Upgraded by Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of W. R. Berkley (NYSE:WRB) from a sell rating to a hold rating in a research note released on Sunday.

According to Zacks, “Shares of W.R. Berkley have outperformed the industry in a year. The company has been investing in numerous startups since 2006 as well as establishing new units, thus enabling it to take advantage of an improved market scenario. Launch of Berkley Healthcare seems a prudent step by the insurer to tap the growing healthcare market, which currently represents 18% of U.S. GDP. Establishing operating units in North and Southeast Asia are also in line with the strategy while divestment of wholly owned investment is likely to drive shareholder value. Its international business has potential for long-term earnings growth. However, exposure to a highly competitive reinsurance market, rising debt inducing higher interest expenses and cat loss are concerns.”

Separately, Morgan Stanley dropped their price target on W. R. Berkley from $74.00 to $73.00 and set an equal weight rating on the stock in a report on Thursday, January 3rd. Two analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, five have given a hold rating and one has given a buy rating to the company. W. R. Berkley presently has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $77.40.

NYSE WRB opened at $72.00 on Friday. The firm has a market capitalization of $8.83 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 29.27, a P/E/G ratio of 2.11 and a beta of 0.84. W. R. Berkley has a 1 year low of $67.12 and a 1 year high of $80.68. The company has a current ratio of 0.36, a quick ratio of 0.36 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.49.

W. R. Berkley (NYSE:WRB) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, October 23rd. The insurance provider reported $1.12 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.84 by $0.28. The company had revenue of $1.60 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $1.60 billion. W. R. Berkley had a return on equity of 9.03% and a net margin of 8.64%. The firm’s revenue was up 1.4% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the prior year, the company earned $1.26 earnings per share. As a group, analysts anticipate that W. R. Berkley will post 3.89 EPS for the current year.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Wednesday, December 12th. Shareholders of record on Wednesday, November 28th were issued a $0.15 dividend. The ex-dividend date was Tuesday, November 27th. This represents a $0.60 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 0.83%. W. R. Berkley’s dividend payout ratio is currently 24.39%.

Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the business. Parametrica Management Ltd purchased a new position in W. R. Berkley during the 3rd quarter worth approximately $363,000. Atria Investments LLC purchased a new position in W. R. Berkley during the 3rd quarter worth approximately $269,000. California Public Employees Retirement System grew its position in W. R. Berkley by 26.0% during the 2nd quarter. California Public Employees Retirement System now owns 338,512 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $24,512,000 after purchasing an additional 69,949 shares in the last quarter. Robeco Institutional Asset Management B.V. grew its position in W. R. Berkley by 15.4% during the 3rd quarter. Robeco Institutional Asset Management B.V. now owns 11,733 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $938,000 after purchasing an additional 1,570 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Wells Fargo & Company MN grew its position in W. R. Berkley by 3.2% during the 3rd quarter. Wells Fargo & Company MN now owns 372,745 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $29,792,000 after purchasing an additional 11,410 shares in the last quarter. 71.00% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

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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