On Jun 17, 2014, shares of
Hallmark Financial Services Inc
) 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
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
AmTrust Financial Services, Inc
Atlas Financial Holdings, Inc
). All these stocks sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).
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BERKLEY (WR) CP (WRB): Free Stock Analysis
HALLMARK FINL (HALL): Free Stock Analysis
AMTRUST FIN SVC (AFSI): Free Stock Analysis
ATLAS FINL HLDG (AFH): Free Stock Analysis
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