Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Markel (NYSE:MKL) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note released on Friday, January 5th. Zacks Investment Research currently has $1,253.00 price target on the insurance provider’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Shares of Markel have outperformed the industry in a year. It strives to grow via acquisitions and organic initiatives as these not only diversify and strengthen its portfolio but also expand its international footprint. Despite soft market conditions, it continues to deliver solid results banking on the strength of its underwriting, investment and Markel Ventures operations. Markel stands to benefit from insurance, investments and Markel Ventures, which position it well for long-term growth. The latest acquisition of State National Companies will help Markel boost collateral protection insurance coverage capabilities. However, exposure to catastrophe loss will always induce volatility in underwriting results. Escalating expenses weighing on margin expansion remain a concern.”

A number of other equities research analysts have also weighed in on MKL. Royal Bank of Canada restated a hold rating and set a $1,050.00 price objective on shares of Markel in a research report on Tuesday, October 3rd. SunTrust Banks restated a hold rating and set a $1,100.00 price objective on shares of Markel in a research report on Friday, October 27th. Finally, Boenning Scattergood restated a buy rating on shares of Markel in a research report on Thursday, October 26th. Four investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and two have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. Markel currently has a consensus rating of Hold and an average target price of $1,109.50.

Markel (NYSE MKL) opened at $1,138.67 on Friday. Markel has a 52 week low of $612.00 and a 52 week high of $1,157.30. The company has a quick ratio of 0.55, a current ratio of 0.55 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.28. The stock has a market capitalization of $15,516.42, a price-to-earnings ratio of 253.04 and a beta of 1.04.

In other Markel news, Director Lemuel E. Lewis acquired 1,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, November 8th. The shares were bought at an average cost of $1,080.96 per share, with a total value of $1,080,960.00. Following the purchase, the director now directly owns 5,294 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $5,722,602.24. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through this hyperlink. Also, Vice Chairman Steven A. Markel sold 200 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction dated Thursday, November 9th. The shares were sold at an average price of $1,071.94, for a total value of $214,388.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the insider now directly owns 108,950 shares in the company, valued at $116,787,863. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold a total of 2,138 shares of company stock worth $2,359,038 over the last ninety days. Company insiders own 2.53% of the company’s stock.

Several large investors have recently made changes to their positions in MKL. Vanguard Group Inc. lifted its stake in shares of Markel by 2.6% in the 2nd quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 1,129,189 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $1,101,931,000 after purchasing an additional 28,104 shares during the period. Archford Capital Strategies LLC increased its position in Markel by 34,592.5% in the 2nd quarter. Archford Capital Strategies LLC now owns 13,877 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $204,000 after buying an additional 13,837 shares in the last quarter. Janus Henderson Group PLC increased its position in Markel by 712.3% in the 2nd quarter. Janus Henderson Group PLC now owns 14,703 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $14,347,000 after buying an additional 12,893 shares in the last quarter. Renaissance Technologies LLC increased its position in Markel by 7.9% in the 2nd quarter. Renaissance Technologies LLC now owns 167,577 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $163,532,000 after buying an additional 12,296 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Victory Capital Management Inc. increased its position in Markel by 6.3% in the 3rd quarter. Victory Capital Management Inc. now owns 162,418 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $173,459,000 after buying an additional 9,661 shares in the last quarter. 76.79% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

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Markel Company Profile

Markel Corporation is a financial holding company serving a range of markets. The Company’s principal business markets and underwrites specialty insurance products. It monitors and reports its ongoing underwriting operations in three segments: U.S. Insurance, International Insurance and Reinsurance. The Company, through its subsidiary Markel Ventures, Inc (Markel Ventures), owns interests in various industrial and service businesses that operate outside of the specialty insurance marketplace.

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