Axis Capital (NYSE:AXS) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “strong sell” rating in a research note issued to investors on Thursday.

According to Zacks, “AXIS Capital incurred operating loss in fourth-quarter 2018, wider than the Zacks Consensus Estimate. Exposure to cat loss has been denting AXIS Capital’s underwriting results and dragging its bottom line. Stiff competition in the reinsurance industry and escalating expenses restrict the company’s margin expansion. Nonetheless, AXIS Capital continues to build on its Specialty Insurance, Reinsurance plus Accident and Health to pave the way for long-term growth. It is focused on deploying resources prudently while enhancing efficiencies at the same time. Also, the insurer has been improving its portfolio mix and underwriting profitability apart from fortifying the casualty and professional lines in the insurance segment. Its inorganic growth story remains impressive with strategic buyouts. Shares of AXIS Capital have outperformed the industry in a year’s time.”

Several other research firms have also recently weighed in on AXS. Wells Fargo & Co reissued a “hold” rating and set a $58.00 price objective on shares of Axis Capital in a report on Wednesday, October 24th. Morgan Stanley decreased their price objective on shares of Axis Capital from $65.00 to $63.00 and set a “hold” rating for the company in a report on Wednesday, November 14th. ValuEngine raised shares of Axis Capital from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a report on Thursday, December 27th. Citigroup set a $60.00 price objective on shares of Axis Capital and gave the company a “hold” rating in a report on Thursday, November 8th. Finally, TheStreet raised shares of Axis Capital from a “c” rating to a “b-” rating in a report on Thursday, October 25th. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, five have issued a hold rating and one has issued a buy rating to the stock. The company presently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $60.17.

AXS opened at $55.29 on Thursday. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.36, a current ratio of 0.56 and a quick ratio of 0.56. Axis Capital has a twelve month low of $47.43 and a twelve month high of $60.69. The company has a market cap of $4.48 billion, a PE ratio of 27.89, a P/E/G ratio of 1.23 and a beta of 0.39.

Axis Capital (NYSE:AXS) last released its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, January 30th. The insurance provider reported ($1.77) earnings per share for the quarter, missing the consensus estimate of ($1.34) by ($0.43). Axis Capital had a net margin of 0.85% and a return on equity of 4.07%. The company had revenue of $752.70 million for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $737.03 million. During the same period in the previous year, the firm earned $0.24 earnings per share. The firm’s revenue for the quarter was up 3.2% on a year-over-year basis. As a group, research analysts predict that Axis Capital will post 5.11 EPS for the current fiscal year.

A number of hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in the business. First Mercantile Trust Co. increased its holdings in Axis Capital by 120.8% during the fourth quarter. First Mercantile Trust Co. now owns 530 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $27,000 after buying an additional 290 shares during the last quarter. Strs Ohio increased its holdings in Axis Capital by 3.1% during the fourth quarter. Strs Ohio now owns 11,140 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $575,000 after buying an additional 330 shares during the last quarter. Standard Life Aberdeen plc increased its holdings in Axis Capital by 2.5% during the third quarter. Standard Life Aberdeen plc now owns 17,944 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $1,036,000 after buying an additional 436 shares during the last quarter. Benedict Financial Advisors Inc. increased its holdings in Axis Capital by 5.2% during the fourth quarter. Benedict Financial Advisors Inc. now owns 19,664 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $1,015,000 after buying an additional 966 shares during the last quarter. Finally, CenturyLink Investment Management Co increased its holdings in Axis Capital by 4.6% during the fourth quarter. CenturyLink Investment Management Co now owns 22,710 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $1,173,000 after buying an additional 1,004 shares during the last quarter. 89.81% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

About Axis Capital

AXIS Capital Holdings Limited, through its subsidiaries, provides various specialty insurance and reinsurance products worldwide. It operates through two segments, Insurance and Reinsurance. The Insurance segment offers property insurance for commercial buildings, residential premises, construction projects, and onshore energy installations; marine insurance covering offshore energy, cargo, liability, recreational marine, fine art, specie, hull, and war; and terrorism, aviation, credit and political risk, and liability insurance.

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