Why Hartford Financial (HIG) Stock Is Higher Today

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of The Hartford Financial Services Group  (HIG) are higher by 1.53% to $37.22 in early market trading after the company was upgraded to "outperform" from "market perform" at FBR Capital Markets (FBRC) this morning.

The firm cited visibility on potential runoff outcomes for its new rating.

Analysts at the firm increased its price target to $44, up from its previous $37.

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Separatley, TheStreet Ratings team rates HARTFORD FINANCIAL SERVICES as a Buy with a ratings score of B. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate HARTFORD FINANCIAL SERVICES (HIG) a BUY. This is driven by multiple strengths, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its good cash flow from operations, increase in stock price during the past year, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • Net operating cash flow has increased to $161.00 million or 35.29% when compared to the same quarter last year. The firm also exceeded the industry average cash flow growth rate of -7.26%.
  • Compared to where it was a year ago today, the stock is now trading at a higher level, regardless of the company's weak earnings results. Looking ahead, unless broad bear market conditions prevail, we still see more upside potential for this stock, despite the fact that it has already risen over the past year.
  • HARTFORD FINANCIAL SERVICES's earnings per share declined by 33.3% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. But, we feel it is poised for EPS growth in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, HARTFORD FINANCIAL SERVICES turned its bottom line around by earning $2.23 versus -$0.33 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($3.10 versus $2.23).
  • HIG, with its decline in revenue, underperformed when compared the industry average of 19.7%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 1.6%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • Despite currently having a low debt-to-equity ratio of 0.31, it is higher than that of the industry average, inferring that management of debt levels may need to be evaluated further.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: HIG Ratings Report

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