Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of W.R. Berkley Corporation (NYSE:WRB) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research report sent to investors on Thursday.

According to Zacks, “W.R. Berkley’s second-quarter 2017 earnings missed our expectations and also declined year over year mainly due to dismal performance at the Reinsurance segment. Exposures to highly competitive insurance market along with low interest rate scenario and cat losses are dampeners. Also, shares of W.R. Berkley underperformed the industry in the second quarter. Nonetheless, the company has been investing in a number of startups since 2006 as well as establishing new units, which enables it to take advantage of an improved market scenario. Formation of operating units in North and Southeast Asia is in tandem with the strategy while divestment of wholly owned investment is expected to enhance long term shareholder’s value. Its international business has potential for long-term earnings growth. Reserving discipline and strong capital position are other positives.”

Several other equities research analysts have also recently issued reports on the company. Boenning Scattergood reiterated a hold rating on shares of W.R. Berkley Corporation in a report on Wednesday, July 26th. Morgan Stanley reiterated an equal weight rating and issued a $70.00 price objective (up from $68.00) on shares of W.R. Berkley Corporation in a report on Friday, July 7th. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods set a $67.00 price objective on W.R. Berkley Corporation and gave the stock a hold rating in a report on Thursday, July 6th. Finally, BidaskClub cut W.R. Berkley Corporation from a buy rating to a hold rating in a report on Thursday, June 29th. Two analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, seven have issued a hold rating and one has given a buy rating to the stock. The stock has a consensus rating of Hold and an average target price of $63.83.

Shares of W.R. Berkley Corporation (NYSE WRB) opened at 68.96 on Thursday. The company has a 50 day moving average price of $69.40 and a 200-day moving average price of $69.04. The stock has a market capitalization of $8.36 billion, a P/E ratio of 14.64 and a beta of 0.87. W.R. Berkley Corporation has a 52-week low of $55.55 and a 52-week high of $73.17.

W.R. Berkley Corporation (NYSE:WRB) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Tuesday, July 25th. The insurance provider reported $0.65 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, missing the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.75 by $0.10. W.R. Berkley Corporation had a return on equity of 7.67% and a net margin of 7.86%. The firm had revenue of $1.57 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $1.61 billion. During the same quarter in the previous year, the firm posted $0.82 earnings per share. The company’s quarterly revenue was up .6% on a year-over-year basis. On average, analysts predict that W.R. Berkley Corporation will post $3.01 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

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The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Wednesday, July 5th. Shareholders of record on Thursday, June 15th were paid a $0.14 dividend. This represents a $0.56 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 0.81%. This is a positive change from W.R. Berkley Corporation’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.13. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Tuesday, June 13th. W.R. Berkley Corporation’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is 11.84%.

A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in WRB. Janney Montgomery Scott LLC raised its position in W.R. Berkley Corporation by 59.5% in the first quarter. Janney Montgomery Scott LLC now owns 26,024 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $1,838,000 after buying an additional 9,704 shares during the period. AMI Investment Management Inc. raised its position in W.R. Berkley Corporation by 52.6% in the first quarter. AMI Investment Management Inc. now owns 101,383 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $4,043,000 after buying an additional 34,943 shares during the period. ProShare Advisors LLC raised its position in W.R. Berkley Corporation by 593.3% in the first quarter. ProShare Advisors LLC now owns 156,450 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $11,050,000 after buying an additional 133,885 shares during the period. Speece Thorson Capital Group Inc. raised its position in W.R. Berkley Corporation by 2.8% in the first quarter. Speece Thorson Capital Group Inc. now owns 147,040 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $10,385,000 after buying an additional 3,974 shares during the period. Finally, Mn Services Vermogensbeheer B.V. raised its position in W.R. Berkley Corporation by 4.2% in the first quarter. Mn Services Vermogensbeheer B.V. now owns 2,548 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $168,000 after buying an additional 102 shares during the period. 72.18% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

W.R. Berkley Corporation Company Profile

W. R. Berkley Corporation is an insurance holding company. It operates through two segments: Insurance and Reinsurance-Global. The Insurance segment consists of its commercial insurance business operations, comprising excess and surplus lines, and admitted lines, throughout the United States, as well as its insurance business operations in the United Kingdom, Continental Europe, South America, Canada, Mexico, Scandinavia, Asia and Australia.

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Analyst Recommendations for W.R. Berkley Corporation (NYSE:WRB)

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