W. R. Berkley (NYSE:WRB) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research note issued on Monday.

According to Zacks, “Exposure to a highly competitive reinsurance market, rising debt inducing higher interest expenses and cat loss are concerns for W.R. Berkley. Nonetheless, the company has been investing in numerous startups since 2006 as well as establishing new units, thus enabling it to take advantage of an improved market scenario. Launch of Berkley Healthcare seems a prudent step by the insurer to tap the growing healthcare market, which currently represents 18% of U.S. GDP. Establishing operating units in North and Southeast Asia are also in line with the strategy while divestment of wholly owned investment is likely to drive shareholder value. Its international business has potential for long-term earnings growth. Shares of W.R. Berkley have outperformed the industry in a year.”

Separately, Morgan Stanley dropped their price objective on W. R. Berkley from $74.00 to $73.00 and set an “equal weight” rating on the stock in a research note on Thursday, January 3rd. Three investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, four have assigned a hold rating and one has given a buy rating to the stock. W. R. Berkley has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $77.40.

Shares of NYSE WRB opened at $73.88 on Monday. The company has a current ratio of 0.36, a quick ratio of 0.36 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.49. W. R. Berkley has a fifty-two week low of $67.12 and a fifty-two week high of $80.68. The company has a market capitalization of $8.87 billion, a PE ratio of 30.03, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 2.12 and a beta of 0.84.

W. R. Berkley (NYSE:WRB) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, October 23rd. The insurance provider reported $1.12 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $0.84 by $0.28. W. R. Berkley had a return on equity of 9.03% and a net margin of 8.64%. The firm had revenue of $1.60 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $1.60 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the business posted $1.26 earnings per share. The company’s revenue for the quarter was up 1.4% on a year-over-year basis. On average, equities research analysts anticipate that W. R. Berkley will post 3.84 earnings per share for the current year.

A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in WRB. Truvestments Capital LLC purchased a new stake in shares of W. R. Berkley during the 3rd quarter valued at $103,000. Evercore Wealth Management LLC purchased a new stake in shares of W. R. Berkley during the 3rd quarter valued at $209,000. Gifford Fong Associates purchased a new stake in shares of W. R. Berkley during the 2nd quarter valued at $217,000. CI Global Investments Inc. lifted its holdings in shares of W. R. Berkley by 1,058.6% during the 3rd quarter. CI Global Investments Inc. now owns 2,908 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $232,000 after purchasing an additional 2,657 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Capital Fund Management S.A. purchased a new stake in shares of W. R. Berkley during the 3rd quarter valued at $240,000. 70.99% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

About W. R. Berkley

W. R. Berkley Corporation, an insurance holding company, operates as a commercial lines writer in the United States and internationally. It operates through two segments, Insurance and Reinsurance. The Insurance segment underwrites commercial insurance business, including premises operations, commercial automobile, property, products liability, and professional liability lines.

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