Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of American Financial Group, Inc. (NYSE:AFG) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report published on Thursday morning. Zacks Investment Research currently has $112.00 target price on the insurance provider’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Shares of American Financial have outperformed the industry year to date. The company is well poised to benefit from impressive inorganic growth and restructuring initiatives. Better industry fundamentals, with strong pricing and a higher renewal ratio, should drive overall growth. Consistent price increase in property and casualty business, combined ratio that compares favorably with industry average, a strong balance sheet, low leverage cost, and disciplined capital management are positives. Based on strong operational performance, it raised core net operating earnings of $6.40–$6.90 per share in 2017. Estimates for 2017 and 2018 also moved north over the last 60 days.  However, American Financial’s exposure to cat loss is a risk to underwriting results. A still soft interest rate environment is expected to weigh on desired upside in investment results.”

AFG has been the subject of a number of other reports. BidaskClub cut American Financial Group from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research note on Friday, August 25th. Buckingham Research initiated coverage on American Financial Group in a research note on Monday. They set a neutral rating and a $103.00 price objective for the company. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, two have assigned a hold rating and two have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company has a consensus rating of Hold and an average target price of $99.33.

Shares of American Financial Group (AFG) traded up 1.14% during trading on Thursday, hitting $99.90. The stock had a trading volume of 163,854 shares. American Financial Group has a 12 month low of $73.38 and a 12 month high of $105.58. The stock has a 50-day moving average price of $101.85 and a 200 day moving average price of $98.72. The company has a market cap of $8.79 billion, a P/E ratio of 11.26 and a beta of 0.84.

American Financial Group (NYSE:AFG) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Tuesday, August 1st. The insurance provider reported $1.61 earnings per share for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.30 by $0.31. The firm had revenue of $1.07 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $1.12 billion. American Financial Group had a return on equity of 11.66% and a net margin of 11.89%. The firm’s quarterly revenue was up 3.7% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period in the prior year, the business posted $1.28 EPS. Equities analysts expect that American Financial Group will post $6.73 EPS for the current fiscal year.

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In related news, insider Michelle A. Gillis sold 2,051 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Thursday, August 3rd. The stock was sold at an average price of $104.88, for a total transaction of $215,108.88. Following the completion of the sale, the insider now directly owns 17,939 shares in the company, valued at approximately $1,881,442.32. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at the SEC website. Also, CEO Carl H. Lindner III sold 56,353 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, June 20th. The stock was sold at an average price of $102.17, for a total value of $5,757,586.01. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold a total of 130,528 shares of company stock valued at $13,396,460 over the last 90 days. 14.90% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

A number of institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in AFG. Russell Investments Group Ltd. raised its stake in American Financial Group by 17.9% in the first quarter. Russell Investments Group Ltd. now owns 104,148 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $9,941,000 after buying an additional 15,811 shares during the last quarter. Wells Fargo & Company MN raised its stake in American Financial Group by 114.4% in the first quarter. Wells Fargo & Company MN now owns 290,597 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $27,728,000 after buying an additional 155,085 shares during the last quarter. Great West Life Assurance Co. Can raised its stake in American Financial Group by 9.8% in the first quarter. Great West Life Assurance Co. Can now owns 44,573 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $4,251,000 after buying an additional 3,986 shares during the last quarter. American Century Companies Inc. purchased a new stake in American Financial Group in the first quarter valued at about $4,694,000. Finally, Capital Fund Management S.A. purchased a new stake in American Financial Group in the first quarter valued at about $468,000. Institutional investors own 62.66% of the company’s stock.

American Financial Group Company Profile

American Financial Group, Inc (AFG) is a holding company engaged primarily in property and casualty insurance businesses. The Company, through Great American Insurance Group, focuses on commercial products for businesses, and is engaged in the sale of fixed and fixed-indexed annuities in the retail, financial institutions and education markets.

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