On Apr 10, Zacks Investment Research upgraded
W.R. Berkley Corporation
) to a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).
Why the Upgrade?
W.R. Berkley Corp has been witnessing rising earnings
estimates since it reported solid fourth-quarter results.
Over the last 30 days, 4 of 9 estimates moved north, pushing
the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2013 by 0.7%.
With respect to earnings trends, W.R. Berkley Corp delivered
positive earnings surprises in all 4 quarters of 2012, with an
average beat of 13.69%. The property and casualty insurer is
likely to beat earnings in the first quarter of 2013 because it
has the right combination of a positive Earnings ESP (Read:
Zacks Earnings ESP: A Better Method
) and Zacks Rank. The company's ESP (Expected Surprise
Prediction) currently is +2.74%.
The year-to-date return for the stock came in at 19.48%,
higher than that of S&P 500's return of 11.33%.
The company has formed a division to write inland marine and
related property insurance and hired an industry veteran to head
the new operations in Mar 2013. The new unit is named Berkley
Fire & Marine Underwriters and is headquartered in Chicago.
It will act as an underwriting entity for all of W.R. Berkley
subsidiaries which carry a rating of A+ assigned by the credit
rating agency, A.M. Best Inc. This venture of W.R. Berkley is an
effort to strengthen its position and take advantage of the
eventual positive market turn.
W.R. Berkley Corp. is scheduled to release its first quarter
2013 earnings results on Apr 23 after the closing bell. The Zacks
Consensus Estimate for the first quarter is pegged at 73 cents
representing a year-over-year improvement of 0.46%.
We expect the absence of any major catastrophe event in the
first quarter to bolster the company's performance.
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Other Stocks to Consider
Other property and casualty insurers like
Arch Capital Group Ltd.
Navigators Group Inc.
AXIS Capital Holdings Limited
), carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) and are worth noting.