The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: AmTrust Financial Services, Arch Capital Group, Alleghany, Endurance Specialty Holdings and Diamond Foods

Zacks Equity Research

For Immediate Release
Chicago, IL – July 10, 2014 – announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include the AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. (AFSI-Free Report), Arch Capital Group Ltd. (ACGL-Free Report), Alleghany Corp. (Y-Free Report), Endurance Specialty Holdings Ltd. (ENH-Free Report) and Diamond Foods, Inc. (DMND-Free Report).
Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free.

Here are highlights from Wednesday’s Analyst Blog:

Why AmTrust Financial Is a Strong Buy
On Jul 8, 2014, Zacks Investment Research upgraded AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. (AFSI-Free Report) to a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).
Why the Upgrade?
AmTrust has been witnessing rising earnings estimates on the back of good tidings. Notably, this well-known property and casualty insurer delivered positive earnings surprises all of the last four quarters with an average beat of 21.82%. The long-term expected earnings growth rate for this stock is 15.0%.    
Last month, AmTrust Financial entered an agreement to acquire Comp Options Insurance Company, Inc. (OptaComp) a company affiliated to the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida. With the closure of this deal (expected by the end of 2014), AmTrust expects to capitalize on the synergies that include OptaComp’s market of low-hazard workers' compensation insurance risks to gain market share.
Additionally, with a strong financial position to support, we expect AmTrust Financial to come up with more such endeavors that would enhance inorganic growth and help generate higher returns in the long run. Furthermore, AmTrust Financial’s robust balance sheet as well as underwriting and operating performance prompted credit rating agency A.M. Best to affirm the Financial Strength Rating (:FSR) of “A” to the holding company and Issuer Credit Rating (:ICR) of  “a” to the P&C subsidiaries with a stable outlook. The “bbb” ICR and debt ratings of AmTrust Financial were affirmed as well.
AmTrust Financial’s strong finances also led it to declare a quarterly cash dividend of 20 cents per share in May 2014, yielding 1.94%
The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2014 increased 8.1% to $4.56 per share as most of the estimates were revised higher over the last 60 days. For 2015, estimates moved upward over the same time frame, lifting the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 2.1% to $4.95 per share.
Other Stocks to Consider
Other stocks that look attractive at current levels in the property and casualty space are Arch Capital Group Ltd. (ACGL-Free Report), Alleghany Corp. (Y-Free Report) and Endurance Specialty Holdings Ltd. (ENH-Free Report). All these stocks have the same Zacks Rank as AmTrust.
Diamond Foods to Grow on Turnaround Strategy

On Jul 3, 2014, we issued an updated research report on Diamond Foods, Inc. (DMND-Free Report).

The company recently posted its third-quarter fiscal 2014 adjusted earnings of 11 cents per share. Though earnings missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 16 cents, it registered 37.5% year-over-year growth.

Moreover, the company’s top line climbed 3.2% year over year to $190.9 million, marginally surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $189.0 million. Robust performance at the Snacks division was offset by increased walnut prices that weighed on the Nuts segment’s performance.

Diamond Foods’ vertically integrated business model allows the company to quickly react to the market trends and exploit new opportunities. Moreover, the company’s nut roasting facilities and patented glazing technologies provide a self-stable glazed nut for the mass market.

Also, the company is benefiting from its sustained cost-curtailment endeavors. We believe that the company’s turnaround strategies such as improving price realization, lowering underperforming SKUs and reducing dependency on discount have placed it on the path to success, as evident from improved margins and earnings results for third-quarter fiscal 2014.

Additionally, Diamond Foods is focusing on gaining its lost market share through expansion of the existing product lines and introduction of new products in the United States. Management’s strategic plan is based on providing higher-margin branded products at premium price points.

Further, we expect the company’s future results to exhibit more sustained growth of its brands due to product innovation and differentiation, improved cost structure and revived relationship with walnut suppliers.

However, the company remains susceptible to near- term headwinds such as challenges related to procurement of walnut supplies and mending ties with growers. Furthermore, we remain skeptical about the company’s performance going forward due to its highly leveraged balance sheet.

Diamond Foods currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free.

About Zacks Equity Research

Zacks Equity Research provides the best of quantitative and qualitative analysis to help investors know what stocks to buy and which to sell for the long-term.

Continuous coverage is provided for a universe of 1,150 publicly traded stocks. Our analysts are organized by industry which gives them keen insights to developments that affect company profits and stock performance. Recommendations and target prices are six-month time horizons.

Zacks "Profit from the Pros" e-mail newsletter provides highlights of the latest analysis from Zacks Equity Research. Subscribe to this free newsletter today.

About Zacks is a property of Zacks Investment Research, Inc., which was formed in 1978. The later formation of the Zacks Rank, a proprietary stock picking system; continues to outperform the market by nearly a 3 to 1 margin. The best way to unlock the profitable stock recommendations and market insights of Zacks Investment Research is through our free daily email newsletter; Profit from the Pros.  In short, it's your steady flow of Profitable ideas GUARANTEED to be worth your time! Register for your free subscription to Profit from the Pros.
Get the full Report on AFSI - FREE
Get the full Report on ACGL - FREE
Get the full Report on Y - FREE
Get the full Report on ENH - FREE
Get the full Report on DMND - FREE
Follow us on Twitter:

Join us on Facebook:

Zacks Investment Research is under common control with affiliated entities (including a broker-dealer and an investment adviser), which may engage in transactions involving the foregoing securities for the clients of such affiliates.
Media Contact
Zacks Investment Research
800-767-3771 ext. 9339

Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Inherent in any investment is the potential for loss. This material is being provided for informational purposes only and nothing herein constitutes investment, legal, accounting or tax advice, or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold a security. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. It should not be assumed that any investments in securities, companies, sectors or markets identified and described were or will be profitable. All information is current as of the date of herein and is subject to change without notice. Any views or opinions expressed may not reflect those of the firm as a whole. Zacks Investment Research does not engage in investment banking, market making or asset management activities of any securities. These returns are from hypothetical portfolios consisting of stocks with Zacks Rank = 1 that were rebalanced monthly with zero transaction costs. These are not the returns of actual portfolios of stocks. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index. Visit for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.

Read the analyst report on AFSI

Read the analyst report on ACGL

Read the analyst report on Y

Read the analyst report on ENH

Read the analyst report on DMND

Zacks Investment Research

  • Politics

    You'll Be Shocked That Most People Don't Know These 4 Things About Social Security -- The Motley Fool

    Social Security is one of the most important social program for seniors in retirement. Research from Gallup suggests that almost 60% of current retirees rely on Social Security income to comprise a major part of their monthly income, while another 30% rely on Social Security as a minor income source. In theory, 90% of today's retirees could be in some degree of financial trouble if they didn't have Social Security in their corner. But the honest truth is that most people -- especially those who've yet to retire -- aren't well versed on the ins and outs of Social Security. When it comes to Social Security, ignorance is far from bliss, as ignorance to the program's rules could wind up costing you

    The Motley Fool
  • Technology

    Are AT&T's and Verizon's no-overage policies really a good deal?

    Nobody likes getting socked with a charge for going over a monthly wireless data cap. And thanks to changes made by the nation's two largest carriers, those days may be over forever. Earlier this summer AT&T and Verizon said they'd eliminate charges for customers who bust their data caps, in exchange for slowing service to 2G speeds. It's a policy competitors T-Mobile and Sprint have offered for years. And it's likely to be a welcome change for many customers, who cringe every month when the phone bill arrives. But are the two big carriers really offering a good deal? In this edition of Ask Maggie, I help answer that question. Dear Maggie, I have two teenagers on my Verizon family plan, and they

  • Business

    ‘Rich Dad’ author Robert Kiyosaki: If you’re investing for the long term, ‘you’re crazy’

    Robert Kiyosaki, author of several best-selling books including “Rich Dad Poor Dad,” joined MarketWatch for a live interview on Facebook today. He offered up insights on making money, becoming an entrepreneur and even touched on politics. Here are some highlights from the talk, or you can listen to the full interview here. His advice on how to get rich: “The rich do not work for money. Most people do not understand that, because they’re taught to go to school and get a job for money. The rich don’t work for money. And one of the reasons for that is money is no longer money. One of the reasons for that is in 1971, President Nixon took the U.S. Dollar off the gold standard and basically screwed

  • Business

    8/27/16 CG: PIT@MIL

    8/27/16 Condensed Game: PIT@MIL
  • TGT

    Target is discounting everything to win shoppers back amid boycott

    Target is launching a first-of-its-kind one-day sale to try and boost back-to-school shopper traffic amid a boycott over its bathroom policy. Target is calling the event #TargetRunDay. It marks the first time Target has ever offered a 10% discount both in stores and on its website.

    Business Insider
  • Business

    3 Great Reasons to Sell General Electric Company -- The Motley Fool

    Between divesting its massive financial services business, investing heavily to expand its digital offerings, and working to transform itself into a highly focused industrial company, General Electric (NYSE:GE) is in the process of reinventing itself for the 21st century. Along this journey, General Electric has several notable opportunities it can tap into for growth. However, tapping into new growth may not necessarily translate into a higher stock price. After all, GE is a massive company and it takes a lot to move the needle. At the same time, the company is dealing with a sluggish and volatile global growth environment that's inhibiting its ability to drive revenue growth. Finally, there's

    The Motley Fool
  • Business

    Warren Buffett Bought 3 Million More Shares of This Oil Company: Here's Why -- The Motley Fool

    Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. (NYSE:BRK-A) (NYSE:BRK-B) bought 3.2 million more shares of Phillips 66 (NYSE:PSX), according to the company's most recent SEC filing. That puts Berkshire's total holding at nearly 79 million shares, good for a 15% stake in the refining and petrochemicals giant. In only a few years' time Phillips 66 has become one of Berkshire Hathaway's biggest holdings, worth $6.1 billion at recent share prices.  So what does Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett  like so much about Phillips 66? In short, it's got a lot of the characteristics that Buffett looks for in a company, and they're the kinds of things that have typically meant fantastic long-term returns for Buffett and Berkshire's

    The Motley Fool
  • Business

    Billionaire George Soros' Fund Dumped These 3 Biotech Holdings. Should You? -- The Motley Fool

    George Soros is widely considered one of the greatest hedge fund managers of all time, and for good reason. During his tenure at the Quantum Fund, Soros reportedly generated average returns in excess of 30% per year, crushing the broader markets in the process.  As such, his namesake fund, Soros Fund Management, remains one of the most closely watched hedge funds in the world, despite his retirement in 2015. And the fact that the Soros Fund has over $4.6 billion under management means it can have a real impact on the market, giving investors all the more reason to keep tabs on its quarterly buys and sells.  Biotech investors in particular may want to dig deeper into the fund's quarterly transactions

    The Motley Fool
  • Business

    Icahn may have sought to sell Herbalife shares before buying new ones: Sources

    Carl Icahn bought more than two-million additional Herbalife shares late on Friday, but according to sources the billionaire investor may have been interested in exiting his Herbalife position earlier in August—but only for the right price. Sources tell CNBC that two financial firms, Jeffries and UBS, were working independently to find a buyer for Icahn's massive stake in the nutritional supplement company, but no buyers ever emerged. These sources also said that, as recently as late last week, Icahn was bid for a large block of his Herbalife position but chose not to sell. In addition, Icahn never offered his shares, they added. It's also possible that Icahn, a well-known poker enthusiast, was
  • Entertainment

    The colonel's secret recipe revealed? Not so fast, says KFC

    Has Colonel Sanders' nephew inadvertently revealed to the world the secret blend of 11 herbs and spices behind KFC's fried chicken empire? The company says the recipe published in the Chicago Tribune is not authentic. It all started when a reporter visited with Joe Ledington, a nephew of Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Colonel Harland David Sanders.

    Associated Press
  • News

    US wants to force lower speeds on truck and bus drivers

    Whatever the speed limit, drivers would be physically prevented from exceeding it. The proposal, which comes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, does not force older heavy vehicles to add the speed-limiting technology, but the regulators are still considering it. While the news is being welcomed by some safety advocates and non-professional drivers, many truckers said that such changes could lead to dangerous scenarios where they are traveling at much lower speeds than everyone else.

    Associated Press
  • Business

    As Apple’s ‘death cross’ turns 1, the stock heads toward a ‘golden cross’

    Apple Inc. detractors can celebrate on Friday the first anniversary of the stock’s “death cross,” only the second time in the stock’s 36-year history that the bearish chart pattern has persisted for that long. Although the current bearish technical period is on track to end within two weeks, the Apple bulls shouldn’t be too quick to celebrate. The only other time Apple’s 50-day moving average stayed below its 200-day moving average for at least a year—from Oct. 9, 1995, to Nov. 21, 1996—the ensuing bullish “golden cross” lasted less than two months, and prices resumed their tumble almost immediately.

  • Business

    Tech giant Dell changes its name

    Dell Inc. has officially adopted its new name of Dell Technologies Inc. The Round Rock-based company operated by Denali Holding Inc. made the change on Thursday, according to a Friday filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. This has happened before to Austin's largest company. Michael Dell founded his venture in 1984 as PCs Limited. In 1987, he dropped that name to create Dell Computer Corp. When the company started to become more than a computer maker, it went to its simplest name: Dell Inc. That was in 2003. In May, Michael Dell first revealed the new name to represent the company that will be formed by combining Dell Inc. and Massachusetts-based EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC). The

    Austin Business Journal
  • World

    The Latest: 6 bodies found in past 2 days in quake-hit town

    A spokesman for firefighters says that rescue workers have found six bodies over the past two days from the rubble of Amatrice, the hardest hit of three towns struck by the recent earthquake in Italy. Luca Cari says three of those bodies have been recovered and three others are stuck in a place that is hard for workers to safely reach and that it will still take more time to recover them. Firefighters are entering earthquake-damaged homes in Italy to retrieve a few items cherished by their owners, hoping it will give comfort to those who have lost homes and loved ones.

    Associated Press
  • Business

    Your 401(k): What's the Ideal Contribution?

    Whether you are in your 40s, 50s, or early 60s, you probably have lots of questions and concerns about your retirement. How to save for it, what options are available, and how much money is ideal? One of the most common ways to start saving for retirement is through an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan. In many cases, whatever amount you contribute to your retirement plan, your company will match, but that’s not always the case — check with your company. (For related reading, see: Here's What to Do With Extra Cash From Your IRA.) Ideal Amounts to Set Aside A common notion is to invest, or start to, at least 10% of your gross earnings into a retirement fund. This is especially effective if you start

  • Politics

    UK leader May, Cabinet to chart EU exit at Chequers retreat

    British Prime Minister Theresa May is bringing her Cabinet together at her rural retreat to plot Britain's first steps on leaving the European Union. Officials at May's Downing Street office say May will oversee a daylong brainstorming session with Cabinet colleagues Wednesday at Chequers, the prime minister's 16th-century mansion 40 miles (65 kilometers) northwest of London. May, a Eurosceptic who remained neutral during June's referendum on leaving the EU, was appointed prime minister last month following David Cameron's resignation as Conservative Party leader.

    Associated Press
  • Business

    These oil companies are on the precipice of default: Debtwire

    Tim Hynes, chief analyst at Debtwire, sits down with Yahoo Finance's Jared Blikre to explain how the rout in the price of crude oil created lingering problems with oil company debt, which will not go away unless oil can climb higher.

    Yahoo Finance Video
  • Business

    Muddy Waters says St. Jude shares could fall below $55 a share: CNBC

    Carson Block, the head of short-selling firm Muddy Waters, said on Friday that shares of medical device maker St. Jude Medical Inc could fall to $55 per share or lower if Abbott Laboratories' deal to buy the company falls apart. "If the deal were to break, I think that we could be $55 or lower," Block told cable television network CNBC. St. Jude agreed in April to be purchased by Abbott Laboratories.

  • Business

    Allianz can weather long-lasting low interest rates - life insurance chief

    Europe's biggest insurer Allianz has positioned its business to weather rock-bottom interest rates that could last a "very long time", the head of the German group's life insurance division told German media. While returns on life products offered a 4 percent guaranteed interest rate 15 years ago, ultra-low central bank rates have put pressure on the insurer to restructure its portfolio, Markus Faulhaber, Chief Executive at Allianz Leben, told German newspaper Welt am Sonntag. "We started in 2007 to offer other types of life insurance apart from our classic form of life insurance," Faulhaber said, adding that the new products are financed through a greater proportion of shares, real estate and private equity.

  • News

    2 United pilots suspected of being drunk arrested in Glasgow

    Police and airline officials say two United Airlines pilots have been arrested for suspected intoxication before they were to fly 141 passengers from Scotland to the United States. United Airlines officials have confirmed Saturday's arrest of the pilots, aged 45 and 35, at Glasgow Airport. The Police Service of Scotland says both men are expected to be arraigned Monday at a court in Paisley, a Glasgow suburb, to face charges connected to Britain's transport safety laws.

    Associated Press
  • Entertainment

    Israeli tech group Shellanoo plans Tel Aviv IPO

    Israeli technology company Shellanoo is planning to raise at least 100 million shekels ($26.5 million) in an initial public offering (IPO) on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange in late September or October, it said on Sunday. Shellanoo, founded in 2014 and whose backers include Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and popstars and Nicki Minaj, focuses on mobile applications, online services and interactive artificial intelligence. By staying local, Shellanoo is bucking a trend of Israeli technology companies choosing to list on foreign markets such as Nasdaq.

  • Business

    Love Dividends? 2 Stocks You Might Want to Buy -- The Motley Fool

    Are you looking to spice up your portfolio with some dividends? If you're not, think again. There are very good reasons to love dividend stocks, including the income stream they provide investors, the fact that these income streams often grow over time, and the additional possibility of principal appreciation. But finding the right dividend stocks isn't always easy. After all, a high dividend yield doesn't automatically translate into an excellent dividend stock. To make things easier, here are two income-investment ideas for you to consider: McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL). Profiting from fast food McDonald's fits the definition of a solid dividend stock, and it's just about as

    The Motley Fool
  • News

    Forget Driverless Cars – Driverless Air Taxis Are The Future

    Ford is the latest major company to jump on the driverless vehicles bandwagon announcing that it intends to develop fully autonomous vehicles. To really get investors’ attention these days you need to do something truly revolutionary – perhaps something like what Airbus is proposing. European aviation giant Airbus is Boeing’s biggest competitor and a major manufacturer of planes.
  • World

    1 Turkish soldier killed, 8 wounded in southeastern Turkey

    Two separate blasts in the Turkey's Kurdish-dominated southeast killed one Turkish soldier and wounded eight others, and Kurdish militants launched a rocket-propelled grenade at a civilian airport, officials and the state-run news agency said. One soldier was killed and three were wounded after a roadside bomb was triggered remotely by rebels linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, in the Hakkari province, the Anadolu Agency said. In another attack, five civilian village guards were wounded in Siirt province after their van hit an improvised explosive device on a road, Anadolu said, blaming PKK for the blast.

    Associated Press
  • SHI

    Sinopec Profit Slips as Refining Fails to Counter Oil Crash

    Net income dropped to 19.9 billion yuan ($3 billion), the Beijing-based company known as Sinopec said in a statement to the Shanghai stock exchange on Sunday. One of China’s so-called Big Three oil companies, Sinopec’s earnings compare with a 98 percent profit drop by rival PetroChina Co., the country’s biggest producer, and the first-ever half-year loss by Cnooc Ltd., its largest offshore explorer. Oil refiners typically gain when crude slumps since they benefit from cheaper supply costs, though Sinopec is still vulnerable to the price collapse as it’s the country’s third-biggest oil and gas producer.