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W. R. Berkley Rewards Shareholders with Special Dividend

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The board of directors of W. R. Berkley Corporation (WRB - Free Report) approved a special dividend of 50 cents to enhance shareholders’ value. The special dividend will be paid on Nov 21, to shareholders on record as of Nov 14, 2016.

The recent authorization marks the second special dividend approved in this year.  The previous one was paid in October. Including nearly about $100 million spent for buybacks and $184 million of special and regular dividends declared, W. R. Berkley will return about $284 million to its shareholders in 2016.

W. R. Berkley is known for paying special dividends in addition to increasing regular dividends. This will be the fourth time that the company will be paying a special dividend since 2011.

W.R. Berkley maintains a solid balance sheet with sufficient liquidity and strong cash flows. This, in turn, helps it to deploy capital via share repurchases and dividend hikes to enhance shareholders’ value. In May 2016, the company increased its dividend by 8% – the 12th consecutive hike since 2005. Concurrently, the board of directors announced a regular dividend of 13 cents per share. This dividend will be paid on Dec15, to shareholders on record as of Dec 1, 2016.

We note that this Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) insurer missed expectations as well as showed a year-over-year decline in the third quarter of 2016. Also, the Zacks Consensus Estimate have been trending south over the last few weeks. Hence, the company’s announcement of the special divided appears to be a prudent move to retain investor confidence in the company.

Stocks to Consider

Some better ranked property and casualty (P&C) insurers are Mercury General Corporation (MCY - Free Report) , Chubb Limited (CB - Free Report) , and Everest Re Group Ltd. (RE - Free Report) .

Mercury General writes personal automobile insurance in the U.S. The Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) insurer delivered positive surprise in two of the last four quarters but with an average miss of 21.04%. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Chubb is primarily a provider of specialized insurance products such as personal accident, supplemental health and life insurance to individuals. The Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) insurer delivered positive surprise in three of the last four quarters with an average beat of 4.06%.

Everest Re writes P&C, reinsurance and insurance in the U.S, Bermuda and international markets. The company also offers innovative products like excess and surplus lines of insurance. The Zacks Rank #2 insurer delivered positive surprise in three of the last four quarters with an average beat of 25.64%.

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