Essent Group (NYSE:ESNT) Reaches New 12-Month High at $49.65

Shares of Essent Group Ltd. (NYSE:ESNT) hit a new 52-week high during trading on Thursday . The stock traded as high as $49.65 and last traded at $49.64, with a volume of 1006693 shares traded. The stock had previously closed at $48.57.

Several brokerages recently commented on ESNT. BTIG Research upped their price target on shares of Essent Group from $51.00 to $58.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research report on Thursday, December 17th. JPMorgan Chase & Co. lowered shares of Essent Group from an “overweight” rating to a “neutral” rating and set a $52.00 price target for the company. in a research report on Tuesday, January 19th. Finally, Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Essent Group from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research report on Thursday, February 11th. Two equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, three have assigned a hold rating and seven have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company presently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $47.75.

The firm has a market capitalization of $5.60 billion, a PE ratio of 11.37 and a beta of 1.34. The firm’s 50 day moving average price is $44.07 and its two-hundred day moving average price is $43.50.

Essent Group (NYSE:ESNT) last announced its earnings results on Thursday, February 18th. The financial services provider reported $1.10 earnings per share for the quarter, missing the consensus estimate of $1.22 by ($0.12). The firm had revenue of $247.20 million during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $253.03 million. Essent Group had a net margin of 46.59% and a return on equity of 12.97%. Essent Group’s revenue for the quarter was up 8.0% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter last year, the company posted $1.49 earnings per share. Equities analysts expect that Essent Group Ltd. will post 3.95 EPS for the current year.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, March 19th. Investors of record on Wednesday, March 10th were issued a $0.16 dividend. The ex-dividend date was Tuesday, March 9th. This represents a $0.64 annualized dividend and a yield of 1.29%. Essent Group’s dividend payout ratio is presently 11.31%.

In related news, SVP Mary Lourdes Gibbons sold 3,850 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Monday, January 11th. The shares were sold at an average price of $48.09, for a total value of $185,146.50. Following the sale, the senior vice president now directly owns 211,412 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $10,166,803.08. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this hyperlink. Corporate insiders own 2.90% of the company’s stock.

Hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. Harvest Fund Management Co. Ltd bought a new position in Essent Group in the 4th quarter valued at about $32,000. Planned Solutions Inc. bought a new position in Essent Group in the 4th quarter valued at about $48,000. Public Employees Retirement System of Ohio bought a new position in Essent Group in the 4th quarter valued at about $79,000. Toronto Dominion Bank bought a new position in Essent Group in the 4th quarter valued at about $163,000. Finally, Nisa Investment Advisors LLC grew its position in Essent Group by 19.7% in the 4th quarter. Nisa Investment Advisors LLC now owns 4,245 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $183,000 after buying an additional 700 shares in the last quarter. 95.43% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

About Essent Group (NYSE:ESNT)

Essent Group Ltd., through its subsidiaries, provides private mortgage insurance and reinsurance for mortgages secured by residential properties located in the United States. Its mortgage insurance products include primary, pool, and master policy. The company also provides information technology maintenance and development services; customer support-related services; and contract underwriting services.

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