NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Unitrin Incorporated (NYSE: UTR) has been upgraded by TheStreet Ratings from hold to buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, attractive valuation levels, notable return on equity and increase in stock price during the past year. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • In its most recent trading session, UTR has closed at a price level that was not very different from its closing price of one year earlier. This is probably due to its weak earnings growth as well as other mixed factors. Turning our attention to the future direction of the stock, it goes without saying that even the best stocks can fall in an overall down market. However, in any other environment, this stock still has good upside potential despite the fact that it has already risen in the past year.
  • UTR, with its decline in revenue, underperformed when compared the industry average of 19.8%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 5.3%. The declining revenue appears to have seeped down to the company's bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • The return on equity has improved slightly when compared to the same quarter one year prior. This can be construed as a modest strength in the organization. Compared to other companies in the Insurance industry and the overall market on the basis of return on equity, UNITRIN INC has outperformed in comparison with the industry average, but has underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500.
  • UTR's debt-to-equity ratio is very low at 0.29 and is currently below that of the industry average, implying that there has been very successful management of debt levels.

Unitrin, Inc., through its subsidiaries, engages in the property and casualty insurance, life and health insurance, and automobile finance businesses primarily in the United States. The company has a P/E ratio of 10, equal to the average insurance industry P/E ratio and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 16.4. Unitrin has a market cap of $1.8 billion and is part of the financial sector and insurance industry. Shares are up 21.3% year to date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

You can view the full Unitrin Ratings Report or get investment ideas from our investment research center.
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