Hallmark Financial Touches 52-week High - Analyst Blog


On Jun 17, 2014, shares of Hallmark Financial Services Inc . ( HALL ) reached a new 52-week high of $10.53. The momentum was driven by first-quarter outperformance. The one-year return from the stock came in at 18.3%, which was ahead of the S&P's return of 3.8%.

With respect to earnings performance, this property and casualty insurer delivered positive surprise for the last three quarters, with an average beat of about 159%. In the first quarter, Hallmark Financial delivered operating earnings of 23 cents, outpacing the Zacks Consensus Estimate and  year-ago earnings by leaps and bounds on the strength of improvement across the profitable and contracting lines of businesses. The quarter delivered the highest surprise among the last four quarters. Shares gained about 23% since the first quarter earnings release to close at $10.51 in the last trading session.

A lower loss and loss adjustment expenses coupled with lower other operating expenses at Hallmark Financial more than offset the decline in top line, resulting in margin expansion. The last quarter marked the third straight quarter of underwriting profits and reflected sturdy performance at the Specialty Commercial segment. This segment accounted for about 75% of the total net written premium.  Combined ratio improved 730 basis points.

The financial position of Hallmark Financial also remained solid with an increase in book value, cash and cash equivalents and total assets.

Riding on the strength of its operational performance, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2014 of Hallmark Financial doubled over the last 60 days to 30 cents per share.

Other Stocks to Consider

Some better-ranked property and casualty insurers  include W.R. Berkley Corporation ( WRB ), AmTrust Financial Services, Inc . ( AFSI ) and Atlas Financial Holdings, Inc . ( AFH ). All these stocks sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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BERKLEY (WR) CP (WRB): Free Stock Analysis Report

HALLMARK FINL (HALL): Free Stock Analysis Report

AMTRUST FIN SVC (AFSI): Free Stock Analysis Report

ATLAS FINL HLDG (AFH): Free Stock Analysis Report

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Zacks Investment Research

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

This article appears in: Investing , Business , Stocks

Referenced Stocks: WR , WRB , HALL , AFSI , AFH



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