Hartford Financial Services Group (HIG) Stock Rating Upgraded by Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Hartford Financial Services Group (NYSE:HIG) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report published on Tuesday morning, Zacks.com reports. Zacks Investment Research currently has $59.00 target price on the insurance provider’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Hartford Financial’s first-quarter 2019 adjusted operating earnings of $1.39 per share beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 12% and improved 9.4% year over year, backed by stronger core earnings in Group Benefits and lower Corporate core losses. Its shares have outperformed its industry year to date.  Its strategic initiatives pave the way for long-term growth. Moreover, its investment results are impressive. Its prudent capital management also remains a positive. The company’s performance has improved owing to a sturdy underwriting, strong investment performance and lower tax rates. However, the company is exposed to catastrophic loss, weighing down its margins. Moreover, softness in Personal Lines segment for the past few years remains a major headwind. Escalating expenses is another concern for the company.”

A number of other research analysts have also recently commented on the stock. ValuEngine cut shares of Hartford Financial Services Group from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research note on Tuesday, March 5th. Compass Point started coverage on shares of Hartford Financial Services Group in a research note on Tuesday, January 15th. They set a buy rating and a $58.00 price target for the company. TheStreet upgraded shares of Hartford Financial Services Group from a c+ rating to a b- rating in a research note on Thursday, March 14th. Barclays raised their price target on shares of Hartford Financial Services Group from $55.00 to $57.00 and gave the stock an overweight rating in a research note on Monday, April 1st. Finally, Wells Fargo & Co reiterated a hold rating and issued a $56.00 target price on shares of Hartford Financial Services Group in a research note on Thursday, May 2nd. Five investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and nine have issued a buy rating to the stock. The stock presently has an average rating of Buy and an average target price of $57.25.

HIG traded down $0.40 during midday trading on Tuesday, reaching $52.11. 22,422 shares of the company’s stock were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 2,120,163. The stock has a market cap of $19.02 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 12.08, a P/E/G ratio of 1.09 and a beta of 0.73. The company has a quick ratio of 0.32, a current ratio of 0.32 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.27. Hartford Financial Services Group has a one year low of $40.54 and a one year high of $54.03.

Hartford Financial Services Group (NYSE:HIG) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, May 1st. The insurance provider reported $1.39 EPS for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.24 by $0.15. The firm had revenue of $4.94 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $4.84 billion. Hartford Financial Services Group had a net margin of 9.58% and a return on equity of 12.46%. The company’s revenue for the quarter was up 5.3% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter last year, the company earned $1.27 earnings per share. Equities research analysts expect that Hartford Financial Services Group will post 5.1 EPS for the current fiscal year.

Hartford Financial Services Group declared that its board has initiated a share repurchase plan on Monday, February 4th that permits the company to repurchase $1.00 billion in shares. This repurchase authorization permits the insurance provider to reacquire up to 5.9% of its stock through open market purchases. Stock repurchase plans are usually a sign that the company’s management believes its stock is undervalued.

In other news, EVP Robert W. Paiano sold 5,000 shares of Hartford Financial Services Group stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, April 1st. The shares were sold at an average price of $50.00, for a total value of $250,000.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the executive vice president now owns 33,342 shares in the company, valued at $1,667,100. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through this hyperlink. Insiders own 1.70% of the company’s stock.

Several institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of the stock. Vanguard Group Inc increased its holdings in shares of Hartford Financial Services Group by 1.2% in the third quarter. Vanguard Group Inc now owns 37,098,691 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $1,853,451,000 after purchasing an additional 455,263 shares in the last quarter. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP increased its holdings in shares of Hartford Financial Services Group by 12.4% in the fourth quarter. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP now owns 5,109,074 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $227,084,000 after purchasing an additional 565,189 shares in the last quarter. Diamond Hill Capital Management Inc. increased its holdings in shares of Hartford Financial Services Group by 20.7% in the fourth quarter. Diamond Hill Capital Management Inc. now owns 4,653,359 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $206,842,000 after purchasing an additional 797,185 shares in the last quarter. Geode Capital Management LLC increased its holdings in shares of Hartford Financial Services Group by 8.3% in the fourth quarter. Geode Capital Management LLC now owns 4,622,774 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $205,120,000 after purchasing an additional 353,601 shares in the last quarter. Finally, D. E. Shaw & Co. Inc. increased its holdings in shares of Hartford Financial Services Group by 36.7% in the fourth quarter. D. E. Shaw & Co. Inc. now owns 4,066,068 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $180,736,000 after purchasing an additional 1,091,969 shares in the last quarter. 91.75% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

About Hartford Financial Services Group

The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc, through its subsidiaries, provides insurance and financial services to individual and business customers in the United States. Its Commercial Lines segment offers workers' compensation, property, automobile, marine, livestock, liability, and umbrella coverages; and customized insurance products and risk management services, including professional liability, bond, surety, and specialty casualty coverages.

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