Markel (MKL) Downgraded to “Sell” at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of Markel (NYSE:MKL) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research note published on Thursday morning, Zacks.com reports.

According to Zacks, “Shares of Markel have underperformed the industry in a year. Escalating expenses have been putting pressure on margins. Exposure to cat loss is a concern.  Markel’s first-quarter earnings missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate and declined year over year. Nonetheless, Markel strives to grow via acquisitions and organic initiatives as these not only diversify and strengthen its portfolio but also expand the company’s international footprint. Solid performance by the Insurance and Reinsurance segments should consistently drive premiums. The company stands to benefit from a niche focus and effective management of insurance risk. Markel is banking on the strength of its underwriting, investment and Markel Ventures operations, which position it well for long-term growth. It is also judiciously raising prices across all its products. The company boasts a sturdy capital position, enabling it to engage in share buybacks.”

A number of other brokerages have also recently issued reports on MKL. SunTrust Banks lifted their price objective on Markel to $1,100.00 and gave the company a hold rating in a report on Thursday, May 2nd. TheStreet raised Markel from a c rating to a b- rating in a report on Thursday, May 9th. Finally, ValuEngine raised Markel from a sell rating to a hold rating in a report on Thursday, April 25th. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, three have issued a hold rating and one has issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock currently has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $1,130.25.

Shares of NYSE MKL opened at $1,059.55 on Thursday. The firm has a market cap of $14.67 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 51.61 and a beta of 0.87. Markel has a 52-week low of $950.16 and a 52-week high of $1,228.32. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.31, a current ratio of 0.55 and a quick ratio of 0.55.

In other Markel news, Director K Bruce Connell bought 200 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Thursday, March 7th. The stock was bought at an average cost of $968.78 per share, for a total transaction of $193,756.00. Following the completion of the purchase, the director now owns 2,141 shares in the company, valued at approximately $2,074,157.98. The acquisition was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, Vice Chairman Steven A. Markel sold 100 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Monday, February 25th. The shares were sold at an average price of $1,004.41, for a total value of $100,441.00. Following the completion of the sale, the insider now owns 101,417 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $101,864,248.97. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last 90 days, insiders bought 400 shares of company stock valued at $398,556 and sold 1,393 shares valued at $1,398,416. Company insiders own 2.34% of the company’s stock.

Several large investors have recently made changes to their positions in the company. Security Asset Management increased its stake in shares of Markel by 0.5% in the fourth quarter. Security Asset Management now owns 1,897 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $1,969,000 after buying an additional 10 shares in the last quarter. GHP Investment Advisors Inc. increased its stake in shares of Markel by 1.3% in the first quarter. GHP Investment Advisors Inc. now owns 765 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $762,000 after buying an additional 10 shares in the last quarter. Parisi Gray Wealth Management increased its stake in shares of Markel by 1.3% in the first quarter. Parisi Gray Wealth Management now owns 800 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $801,000 after buying an additional 10 shares in the last quarter. Front Street Capital Management Inc. increased its stake in shares of Markel by 1.3% in the first quarter. Front Street Capital Management Inc. now owns 861 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $858,000 after buying an additional 11 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Comerica Bank increased its stake in shares of Markel by 2.6% in the first quarter. Comerica Bank now owns 482 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $472,000 after buying an additional 12 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors own 75.95% of the company’s stock.

Markel Company Profile

Markel Corporation, a diverse financial holding company, markets and underwrites specialty insurance products in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and internationally. Its Insurance segment offers general and professional liability, property, personal lines, marine and energy, specialty programs, and workers' compensation insurance products.

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