United Fire Group, Inc. (UFCS) Given Average Recommendation of “Buy” by Brokerages

United Fire Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:UFCS) has been given a consensus broker rating score of 2.00 (Buy) from the two analysts that provide coverage for the company, Zacks Investment Research reports. One analyst has rated the stock with a hold recommendation and one has given a strong buy recommendation to the company.

Brokers have set a one year consensus target price of $48.00 for the company, according to Zacks. Zacks has also given United Fire Group an industry rank of 50 out of 265 based on the ratings given to its competitors.

A number of equities research analysts recently weighed in on the stock. BidaskClub cut shares of United Fire Group from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research note on Tuesday, December 12th. Sandler O’Neill upgraded shares of United Fire Group from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and lifted their price objective for the company from $46.00 to $47.00 in a research note on Friday, September 22nd.

Shares of United Fire Group (NASDAQ UFCS) traded up $0.97 during midday trading on Friday, hitting $44.67. 47,116 shares of the company were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 57,843. United Fire Group has a fifty-two week low of $38.97 and a fifty-two week high of $49.74. The company has a market capitalization of $1,087.15, a PE ratio of 70.91 and a beta of 0.71.

United Fire Group (NASDAQ:UFCS) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, November 8th. The insurance provider reported ($0.73) earnings per share for the quarter, missing analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.14 by ($0.87). United Fire Group had a net margin of 1.49% and a return on equity of 1.32%. The company had revenue of $269.55 million for the quarter.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, December 15th. Investors of record on Friday, December 1st were issued a dividend of $0.28 per share. This represents a $1.12 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 2.51%. The ex-dividend date was Thursday, November 30th. United Fire Group’s payout ratio is currently 177.78%.

United Fire Group declared that its board has initiated a share repurchase program on Wednesday, November 8th that permits the company to buyback 2,240,000 outstanding shares. This buyback authorization permits the insurance provider to repurchase shares of its stock through open market purchases. Shares buyback programs are usually an indication that the company’s leadership believes its shares are undervalued.

In related news, Director James Noyce sold 1,323 shares of United Fire Group stock in a transaction dated Thursday, November 30th. The stock was sold at an average price of $48.31, for a total transaction of $63,914.13. Following the transaction, the director now directly owns 10,828 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $523,100.68. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is available through this hyperlink. Also, insider Michael T. Wilkins sold 3,771 shares of United Fire Group stock in a transaction dated Thursday, December 7th. The stock was sold at an average price of $47.24, for a total value of $178,142.04. Following the transaction, the insider now directly owns 37,704 shares in the company, valued at $1,781,136.96. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last ninety days, insiders have sold 11,481 shares of company stock worth $548,710. 5.83% of the stock is owned by corporate insiders.

A number of large investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. California Public Employees Retirement System grew its holdings in United Fire Group by 5.8% during the third quarter. California Public Employees Retirement System now owns 58,712 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $2,690,000 after acquiring an additional 3,212 shares during the period. Earnest Partners LLC increased its stake in United Fire Group by 0.8% in the 3rd quarter. Earnest Partners LLC now owns 1,398,479 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $64,078,000 after purchasing an additional 11,176 shares in the last quarter. Wells Fargo & Company MN increased its stake in United Fire Group by 6.2% in the 3rd quarter. Wells Fargo & Company MN now owns 136,897 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $6,273,000 after purchasing an additional 8,047 shares in the last quarter. Citadel Advisors LLC increased its stake in United Fire Group by 61.4% in the 3rd quarter. Citadel Advisors LLC now owns 20,718 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $949,000 after purchasing an additional 7,884 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Trexquant Investment LP purchased a new position in United Fire Group in the 3rd quarter worth about $319,000. 58.35% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

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United Fire Group Company Profile

United Fire Group, Inc, formerly United Fire & Casualty Company, is engaged in the business of writing property and casualty insurance and life insurance and selling annuities. The Company operates in two segments: property and casualty insurance, and life insurance. The Company’s property and casualty insurance segment consists of commercial lines insurance, including surety bonds, personal lines insurance and assumed insurance.

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