Hartford Financial Services Group (NYSE:HIG) Upgraded at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Hartford Financial Services Group (NYSE:HIG) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report published on Thursday morning, Zacks.com reports. Zacks Investment Research currently has $64.00 target price on the insurance provider’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Hartford Financial’s third-quarter 2019 adjusted operating earnings of $1.50 per share beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 19% and improved 30.4% on higher revenues and Commercial Lines business. Its shares have outperformed its industry in a year's time. Its strategic divestitures pave the way for long-term growth. Its investment results and capital management are impressive. Its results have improved owing to a sturdy underwriting, strong investment performance and lower tax rates. The acquisition of Navigators will expand its Commercial Lines business by enhancing its product offerings and increasing geographical reach. Its decreasing debt level is also impressive. However, it is exposed to catastrophic loss, weighing down its margins. Softness in Personal Lines segment and escalating expenses are other concerns.”

Several other research firms have also issued reports on HIG. Wells Fargo & Co reiterated a hold rating and issued a $58.00 target price on shares of Hartford Financial Services Group in a research note on Monday, November 4th. Morgan Stanley lifted their target price on Hartford Financial Services Group from $58.00 to $61.00 and gave the company an equal weight rating in a research note on Thursday, August 15th. Royal Bank of Canada lifted their target price on Hartford Financial Services Group from $68.00 to $70.00 and gave the company an outperform rating in a research note on Wednesday. MKM Partners lifted their target price on Hartford Financial Services Group to $70.00 and gave the company a buy rating in a research note on Tuesday, November 5th. Finally, Buckingham Research lifted their target price on Hartford Financial Services Group from $60.00 to $63.00 and gave the company a buy rating in a research note on Friday, July 19th. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, three have assigned a hold rating and twelve have issued a buy rating to the company. The stock has an average rating of Buy and a consensus price target of $63.92.

Shares of Hartford Financial Services Group stock traded up $0.09 during trading on Thursday, hitting $61.09. 2,090,048 shares of the stock traded hands, compared to its average volume of 2,033,708. The firm has a market cap of $21.84 billion, a P/E ratio of 14.11, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.18 and a beta of 0.62. The company has a current ratio of 0.29, a quick ratio of 0.28 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.28. Hartford Financial Services Group has a 52-week low of $40.54 and a 52-week high of $61.63. The stock’s fifty day simple moving average is $58.92 and its 200 day simple moving average is $56.76.

Hartford Financial Services Group (NYSE:HIG) last posted its earnings results on Monday, November 4th. The insurance provider reported $1.50 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $1.24 by $0.26. Hartford Financial Services Group had a return on equity of 12.69% and a net margin of 8.66%. The company had revenue of $5.35 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $5.22 billion. During the same quarter in the previous year, the firm earned $1.15 earnings per share. The firm’s quarterly revenue was up 10.4% compared to the same quarter last year. As a group, equities analysts expect that Hartford Financial Services Group will post 5.47 EPS for the current year.

The firm also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, January 2nd. Shareholders of record on Monday, December 2nd will be issued a $0.30 dividend. This represents a $1.20 annualized dividend and a yield of 1.96%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Friday, November 29th. Hartford Financial Services Group’s dividend payout ratio is presently 27.71%.

In other Hartford Financial Services Group news, CFO Beth Ann Costello sold 5,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Monday, November 4th. The stock was sold at an average price of $57.70, for a total value of $288,500.00. Following the completion of the sale, the chief financial officer now owns 46,245 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $2,668,336.50. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is available through this hyperlink. Also, CEO Christopher Swift sold 24,279 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Friday, September 13th. The stock was sold at an average price of $60.32, for a total value of $1,464,509.28. Following the completion of the sale, the chief executive officer now directly owns 211,218 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $12,740,669.76. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last three months, insiders sold 71,837 shares of company stock valued at $4,273,875. Corporate insiders own 1.70% of the company’s stock.

Institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. Prime Capital Investment Advisors LLC acquired a new stake in shares of Hartford Financial Services Group during the third quarter worth about $25,000. Virtus ETF Advisers LLC acquired a new stake in shares of Hartford Financial Services Group during the second quarter worth about $26,000. NuWave Investment Management LLC lifted its holdings in shares of Hartford Financial Services Group by 950.0% during the second quarter. NuWave Investment Management LLC now owns 504 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $28,000 after purchasing an additional 456 shares during the period. Rational Advisors LLC lifted its holdings in shares of Hartford Financial Services Group by 950.0% during the second quarter. Rational Advisors LLC now owns 504 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $28,000 after purchasing an additional 456 shares during the period. Finally, Venturi Wealth Management LLC acquired a new stake in shares of Hartford Financial Services Group during the third quarter worth about $28,000. 91.62% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

About Hartford Financial Services Group

The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc, through its subsidiaries, provides insurance and financial services to individual and business customers in the United States. Its Commercial Lines segment offers workers' compensation, property, automobile, marine, livestock, liability, and umbrella coverages; and customized insurance products and risk management services, including professional liability, bond, surety, and specialty casualty coverages.

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