Financial Sector Update for 03/01/2018: EPR,AFSI,FISI

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Financial stocks were trending lower, with the NYSE Financial Sector Index Thursday slipping over 0.4% while financial companies in the S&P 500 Index were falling almost 0.4%. The Philadelphia Housing Sector Index also was sinking nearly 0.6%.

In economic news:

Financial shares were lower in pre-market trading on Thursday, with Wall Street digesting a slew of economic data. Consumer spending in January rose a scant 0.2% while personal incomes rose 0.4% and after-tax incomes produced their largest gain since 2012 following changes late last year in federal tax law.

First-time jobless claims fell by 10,000 during the week ended Feb. 24 to 210,000 applications, hitting their lowest levels since 1969. Forecasts were expecting a rise in initial applications for unemployment benefits to 226,000 claims. Continuing claims increased by 57,000 to 1.93 million. Also, The Federal Reserve's preferred PCE inflation index surged 0.4% in January while core PCE, which strips out food and energy, climbed 0.3% to match its year-ago increase.

Among financial stocks moving on news:

- EPR Properties ( EPR ) slid to a 29-month low on Thursday, dropping to its lowest price since September 2015 at $52.66 a share, after the real estate investment trust reported Q4 financial results lagging analyst expectations and cut its FY18 forecast, prompting at least one analyst downgrade to Sector Weight from Overweight at KeyBanc. Excluding one-time items, the company generated adjusted funds from operations of $1.29 during the three months ended Dec. 31, up from $1.26 per share last year and trailing the Capital IQ consensus by $0.13 per share. Revenue increased 13% year-over-year to $147.7 million, also lagging the $151.9 million Street view. Looking forward, the company cut its outlook for adjusted FY18 FFO by $0.10 per share compared with its prior forecasting expecting between $5.23 to $5.38 per share.

In other sector news:

+ AmTrust Financial Services ( AFSI ) sped to a session high of $13.28 a share, rising almost 11%, after saying it has agreed to sell the 45% minority stake in the property and casualty insurer not already owned by CEO and board chairman Barry Zyskind and family members George and Leah Karfunkel to Evergreen Parent LP, an entity formed by Zyskind and funds managed by private equity investor Stone Point Capital LLC for about $2.7 billion. Under terms of the proposed transaction, AmTrust shareholders will receive $13.50 in cash for each of their shares, a 12.8% premium over Wednesday's closing price for the stock. The deal is expected to close during the second half of the year.

+ Financial Institutions ( FISI ) was about 1% higher during Thursday afternoon trading, remaining near its $31.00 a share session high, after earlier saying it was increasing its quarterly dividend by 9.1% over its most recent distribution to $0.24 per share, payable April 2 to shareholders of record on March 15.

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

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This article appears in: Investing , Banking and loans
Referenced Symbols: EPR , FISI

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