Essent Group (NYSE:ESNT) Downgraded by Zacks Investment Research to “Hold”

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Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Essent Group (NYSE:ESNT) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a report published on Thursday, Zacks.com reports.

According to Zacks, “Essent Group Ltd., through its subsidiaries, operates as a private mortgage insurance company. It serves originators of residential mortgage loans, such as regulated depository institutions, mortgage banks, credit unions, and other lenders. Essent Group Ltd. is based in Hamilton, Bermuda. “

ESNT has been the topic of a number of other reports. JPMorgan Chase & Co. lowered their price objective on shares of Essent Group from $57.50 to $56.00 and set an overweight rating on the stock in a report on Tuesday, February 18th. ValuEngine raised shares of Essent Group from a strong sell rating to a sell rating in a research note on Tuesday, February 18th. Deutsche Bank raised their target price on shares of Essent Group from $65.00 to $67.00 and gave the company a buy rating in a research note on Wednesday, February 19th. MKM Partners decreased their target price on shares of Essent Group to and set a neutral rating for the company in a research note on Tuesday, February 18th. Finally, Royal Bank of Canada reissued a buy rating on shares of Essent Group in a research note on Wednesday, February 19th. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, two have assigned a hold rating and four have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock presently has a consensus rating of Hold and an average target price of $57.00.

Shares of NYSE:ESNT traded down $0.46 during mid-day trading on Thursday, reaching $47.63. The stock had a trading volume of 3,048 shares, compared to its average volume of 644,388. The firm has a market cap of $4.73 billion, a PE ratio of 8.41, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 0.80 and a beta of 1.18. The firm has a 50 day simple moving average of $50.85 and a two-hundred day simple moving average of $50.66. Essent Group has a twelve month low of $42.08 and a twelve month high of $55.84.

Essent Group (NYSE:ESNT) last announced its earnings results on Friday, February 14th. The financial services provider reported $1.49 EPS for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $1.46 by $0.03. The firm had revenue of $228.80 million for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $225.94 million. Essent Group had a net margin of 64.05% and a return on equity of 20.08%. The business’s quarterly revenue was up 18.5% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period last year, the company posted $1.31 EPS. On average, equities research analysts expect that Essent Group will post 6 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, March 20th. Shareholders of record on Tuesday, March 10th will be given a dividend of $0.16 per share. This represents a $0.64 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 1.34%. This is a boost from Essent Group’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.15. The ex-dividend date is Monday, March 9th. Essent Group’s payout ratio is 10.60%.

In other news, Director Roy James Kasmar sold 2,000 shares of Essent Group stock in a transaction on Friday, December 13th. The stock was sold at an average price of $53.93, for a total transaction of $107,860.00. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through this link. Also, SVP Vijay Bhasin sold 40,887 shares of Essent Group stock in a transaction on Wednesday, November 27th. The stock was sold at an average price of $55.05, for a total value of $2,250,829.35. Following the sale, the senior vice president now directly owns 164,396 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $9,049,999.80. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last ninety days, insiders have sold 51,687 shares of company stock valued at $2,815,814. Company insiders own 2.90% of the company’s stock.

Several institutional investors and hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of the company. Eqis Capital Management Inc. raised its stake in Essent Group by 3.2% during the third quarter. Eqis Capital Management Inc. now owns 6,266 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $299,000 after acquiring an additional 194 shares in the last quarter. Actinver Wealth Management Inc. raised its stake in Essent Group by 6.9% during the fourth quarter. Actinver Wealth Management Inc. now owns 4,682 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $243,000 after acquiring an additional 302 shares in the last quarter. Janney Montgomery Scott LLC raised its stake in Essent Group by 2.0% during the third quarter. Janney Montgomery Scott LLC now owns 16,985 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $810,000 after acquiring an additional 340 shares in the last quarter. CWM LLC raised its stake in Essent Group by 134.9% during the fourth quarter. CWM LLC now owns 740 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $38,000 after acquiring an additional 425 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Sheets Smith Wealth Management raised its stake in Essent Group by 4.7% during the fourth quarter. Sheets Smith Wealth Management now owns 10,861 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $560,000 after acquiring an additional 484 shares in the last quarter. 82.51% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

About Essent Group

Essent Group Ltd., through its subsidiaries, provides private mortgage insurance and reinsurance for mortgages secured by residential properties located in the United States. The company also provides information technology maintenance and development services; customer support-related services; and contract underwriting services.

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