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Why Is Markel (MKL) Up 0.4% Since Last Earnings Report?

Zacks Equity Research

It has been about a month since the last earnings report for Markel (MKL). Shares have added about 0.4% in that time frame, outperforming the S&P 500.

Will the recent positive trend continue leading up to its next earnings release, or is Markel due for a pullback? Before we dive into how investors and analysts have reacted as of late, let's take a quick look at its most recent earnings report in order to get a better handle on the important drivers.

Markel Earnings and Revenues Miss Estimates in Q1

Markel reported first-quarter 2019 earnings of $9.24 per share, missing the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 1.8%. The bottom line declined 18.9% year over year.

The quarter witnessed solid performance in its investment portfolio, largely driven by favorable movements in the equity markets. Both underwriting and Markel Ventures operations delivered organic growth. The results included contributions from acquisitions of Brahmin, within the company’s Markel Ventures operations, and Nephila, within insurance-linked securities operations.

Operational Update

Total operating revenues of $1.7 billion missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 0.4%. The top line however rose 9.5% year over year on higher premiums, investment income, product and services plus other revenues.

Total operating expenses of Markel increased 14.1% year over year to $1.7 billion.

Markel’s combined ratio deteriorated 500 basis points (bps) year over year to 95% in the reported quarter.

Segment Update

Insurance: Net written premiums were up 9.3% year over year to $998.4 million in the quarter under review.

Underwriting profit came in at $50.1 million that dropped 49% from the year-ago quarter.

Combined ratio deteriorated 600 bps year over year to 95% in the quarter under discussion.

Reinsurance: Net written premiums rose 13.8% year over year to $497 million.

Underwriting profit dropped 53% year over year to $3.4 million.

Combined ratio deteriorated 200 bps year over year to 99% in the first quarter.

Financial Update

Markel exited the first quarter with investments, cash and cash equivalents of $2.4 billion, up 19.9% from the level at year-end 2018.

Debt balance increased 1.6% to $3.1 billion as of Mar 31, 2019 from 2018 end.

Book value per share increased 8% from year-end 2018 to $706.98 as of Mar 31, 2019.

Net cash from operating activities was $18.7 million, down 67.5% year over year.

How Have Estimates Been Moving Since Then?

It turns out, fresh estimates flatlined during the past month. The consensus estimate has shifted 9.21% due to these changes.

VGM Scores

Currently, Markel has a subpar Growth Score of D, a grade with the same score on the momentum front. Following the exact same course, the stock was allocated a grade of D on the value side, putting it in the bottom 40% for this investment strategy.

Overall, the stock has an aggregate VGM Score of F. If you aren't focused on one strategy, this score is the one you should be interested in.

Outlook

Markel has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). We expect an in-line return from the stock in the next few months.



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