Mercury General Co. (NYSE:MCY) was the target of a significant decline in short interest during the month of July. As of July 15th, there was short interest totalling 876,000 shares, a decline of 13.5% from the June 15th total of 1,012,300 shares. Based on an average daily trading volume, of 253,800 shares, the days-to-cover ratio is presently 3.5 days. Currently, 3.2% of the shares of the stock are sold short.

In related news, VP Charles Toney sold 600 shares of Mercury General stock in a transaction dated Friday, June 14th. The stock was sold at an average price of $60.45, for a total value of $36,270.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the vice president now directly owns 11,803 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $713,491.35. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through this link. Insiders own 34.20% of the company’s stock.

A number of large investors have recently made changes to their positions in MCY. Advisor Group Inc. boosted its holdings in shares of Mercury General by 28.3% in the fourth quarter. Advisor Group Inc. now owns 1,594 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $83,000 after acquiring an additional 352 shares in the last quarter. United Services Automobile Association boosted its holdings in Mercury General by 58.8% during the fourth quarter. United Services Automobile Association now owns 6,697 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $346,000 after buying an additional 2,481 shares in the last quarter. Mackay Shields LLC purchased a new stake in Mercury General during the fourth quarter worth about $822,000. Principal Financial Group Inc. boosted its holdings in Mercury General by 20.2% during the fourth quarter. Principal Financial Group Inc. now owns 142,014 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $7,344,000 after buying an additional 23,884 shares in the last quarter. Finally, D. E. Shaw & Co. Inc. boosted its holdings in Mercury General by 168.6% during the fourth quarter. D. E. Shaw & Co. Inc. now owns 36,855 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $1,906,000 after buying an additional 23,133 shares in the last quarter. 43.91% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

A number of research firms recently issued reports on MCY. Zacks Investment Research cut Green Plains Partners from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Friday. ValuEngine raised USINAS SIDERURG/S from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Wednesday, May 29th. Finally, TheStreet cut UDR from a “b” rating to a “c” rating in a report on Tuesday, April 30th.

Shares of Mercury General stock traded down $0.85 during trading on Tuesday, reaching $57.48. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 9,786 shares, compared to its average volume of 232,733. The stock has a 50-day moving average of $62.28. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.22, a current ratio of 0.43 and a quick ratio of 0.43. Mercury General has a one year low of $47.26 and a one year high of $65.22. The firm has a market capitalization of $3.44 billion, a PE ratio of 32.04, a P/E/G ratio of 0.46 and a beta of 0.24.

Mercury General (NYSE:MCY) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Monday, July 29th. The insurance provider reported $0.74 earnings per share for the quarter, missing the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.91 by ($0.17). The firm had revenue of $936.10 million for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $922.34 million. Mercury General had a return on equity of 8.50% and a net margin of 4.78%. The business’s revenue for the quarter was up 6.6% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period in the prior year, the firm posted $0.88 earnings per share. Sell-side analysts forecast that Mercury General will post 3.55 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, September 26th. Shareholders of record on Thursday, September 12th will be issued a dividend of $0.6275 per share. This represents a $2.51 annualized dividend and a yield of 4.37%. Mercury General’s dividend payout ratio is currently 139.44%.

About Mercury General

Mercury General Corporation, together with its subsidiaries, engages in writing personal automobile insurance in the United States. The company also writes homeowners, commercial automobile, commercial property, mechanical protection, fire, and umbrella insurance. Its automobile insurance products cover collision, property damage, bodily injury, comprehensive, personal injury protection, underinsured and uninsured motorist, and other hazards; and homeowners' insurance products cover dwelling, liability, personal property, fire, and other hazards.

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