Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of American Financial Group (NYSE:AFG) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research note issued to investors on Monday morning.

According to Zacks, “Shares of American Financial have underperformed the industry in a year's time. Exposure to cat loss is a risk to underwriting results. Nonetheless, American Financial 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. Investment income has also been rising and the company expects the same to increase 4-6% in 2018. Consistent price increase in property and casualty business, combined ratio that compares favorably with the industry average, a strong balance sheet, low leverage cost and an efficient capital management are positives. It upped operating earnings view in the range of $8.10-$8.60 in 2018 from $7.90-$8.40 per share, guided earlier.”

AFG has been the topic of a number of other reports. ValuEngine downgraded shares of American Financial Group from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research note on Tuesday, October 2nd. Raymond James downgraded shares of American Financial Group from an outperform rating to a market perform rating in a research note on Thursday, July 12th. Two research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, one has assigned a hold rating and two have issued a buy rating to the company. The stock has an average rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $120.33.

Shares of NYSE:AFG opened at $102.02 on Monday. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.26, a quick ratio of 0.15 and a current ratio of 0.15. American Financial Group has a 12-month low of $100.00 and a 12-month high of $121.69. The firm has a market cap of $9.89 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 15.58, a PEG ratio of 1.05 and a beta of 0.76.

American Financial Group (NYSE:AFG) last announced its earnings results on Wednesday, August 1st. The insurance provider reported $2.04 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $1.96 by $0.08. American Financial Group had a net margin of 7.50% and a return on equity of 13.27%. The company had revenue of $1.16 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $1.18 billion. During the same period in the previous year, the business earned $1.61 EPS. The company’s revenue was up 9.0% on a year-over-year basis. On average, sell-side analysts forecast that American Financial Group will post 8.53 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, October 25th. Stockholders of record on Monday, October 15th will be paid a $0.40 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Friday, October 12th. This is an increase from American Financial Group’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.35. This represents a $1.60 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 1.57%. American Financial Group’s dividend payout ratio is 24.43%.

In other news, CEO Carl H. Lindner III sold 119,448 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Wednesday, August 15th. The shares were sold at an average price of $111.58, for a total value of $13,328,007.84. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, CEO Carl H. Lindner III sold 181,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Thursday, September 20th. The stock was sold at an average price of $113.49, for a total transaction of $20,541,690.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold 446,638 shares of company stock worth $50,239,767 over the last ninety days. 13.70% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

A number of institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of AFG. BlackRock Inc. increased its position in American Financial Group by 11.7% during the second quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 7,286,536 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $782,062,000 after buying an additional 763,692 shares during the last quarter. Cornerstone Wealth Management LLC increased its position in American Financial Group by 11,113.9% during the second quarter. Cornerstone Wealth Management LLC now owns 230,446 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $2,181,000 after buying an additional 228,391 shares during the last quarter. Wells Fargo & Company MN increased its position in American Financial Group by 135.1% during the second quarter. Wells Fargo & Company MN now owns 320,888 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $34,442,000 after buying an additional 184,397 shares during the last quarter. Millennium Management LLC increased its position in American Financial Group by 607.6% during the first quarter. Millennium Management LLC now owns 150,859 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $16,929,000 after buying an additional 129,538 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Bank of America Corp DE increased its position in American Financial Group by 23.6% during the second quarter. Bank of America Corp DE now owns 507,225 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $54,440,000 after buying an additional 96,914 shares during the last quarter. 61.90% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

American Financial Group Company Profile

American Financial Group, Inc, through its subsidiaries, provides property and casualty insurance products in the United States. The company operates through Property and Casualty Insurance, Annuity, Run-Off Long-Term Care and Life, and Other segments. It offers property and transportation insurance products, such as physical damage and liability coverage for buses, trucks and recreational vehicles, inland and ocean marine, agricultural-related products, and other property coverages; specialty casualty insurance, including primarily excess and surplus, general liability, executive liability, professional liability, umbrella and excess liability, and specialty coverage in targeted markets and customized programs for small to mid-sized businesses; and specialty financial insurance products comprising risk management insurance programs for leasing and financing institutions, surety and fidelity products, and trade credit insurance.

See Also: Initial Public Offering (IPO)

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