United Fire Group (NASDAQ:UFCS) was upgraded by stock analysts at Sidoti from a “neutral” rating to a “buy” rating in a research note issued to investors on Thursday, Marketbeat reports.

Other research analysts have also issued reports about the company. ValuEngine lowered United Fire Group from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Friday, February 2nd. BidaskClub lowered United Fire Group from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research report on Tuesday, December 12th. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, two have issued a hold rating and two have assigned a buy rating to the company. United Fire Group presently has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $46.33.

United Fire Group (NASDAQ:UFCS) opened at $45.46 on Thursday. United Fire Group has a 52-week low of $38.95 and a 52-week high of $49.74. The company has a market capitalization of $1,130.95, a price-to-earnings ratio of 22.96 and a beta of 0.59.

United Fire Group (NASDAQ:UFCS) last released its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, February 14th. The insurance provider reported $0.89 EPS for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $0.48 by $0.41. United Fire Group had a return on equity of 2.42% and a net margin of 4.58%. The business had revenue of $272.70 million during the quarter. During the same quarter in the prior year, the business earned $0.46 earnings per share.

United Fire Group declared that its board has approved a stock repurchase program on Wednesday, November 8th that permits the company to buyback 2,240,000 shares. This buyback authorization permits the insurance provider to purchase shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback programs are typically an indication that the company’s leadership believes its stock is undervalued.

In related news, insider Michael T. Wilkins sold 3,771 shares of United Fire Group stock in a transaction on Thursday, December 7th. The stock was sold at an average price of $47.24, for a total value of $178,142.04. Following the completion of the transaction, the insider now directly owns 37,704 shares in the company, valued at $1,781,136.96. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available at the SEC website. Also, COO Michael J. Sheeley sold 3,850 shares of United Fire Group stock in a transaction on Tuesday, November 21st. The shares were sold at an average price of $48.04, for a total value of $184,954.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the chief operating officer now owns 9,529 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $457,773.16. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last 90 days, insiders have sold 11,481 shares of company stock valued at $548,710. Company insiders own 5.83% of the company’s stock.

A number of large investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in UFCS. Advisory Research Inc. purchased a new position in United Fire Group in the fourth quarter valued at $5,804,000. Assenagon Asset Management S.A. purchased a new position in United Fire Group in the fourth quarter valued at $2,754,000. Macquarie Group Ltd. boosted its holdings in United Fire Group by 13.7% in the third quarter. Macquarie Group Ltd. now owns 271,804 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $12,454,000 after purchasing an additional 32,801 shares during the period. Deutsche Bank AG boosted its holdings in United Fire Group by 61.2% in the fourth quarter. Deutsche Bank AG now owns 75,582 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $3,442,000 after purchasing an additional 28,688 shares during the period. Finally, Comerica Bank boosted its holdings in United Fire Group by 116.4% in the fourth quarter. Comerica Bank now owns 48,632 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $2,141,000 after purchasing an additional 26,154 shares during the period. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 58.70% of the company’s stock.

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About United Fire Group

United Fire Group, Inc, formerly United Fire & Casualty Company, is engaged in the business of writing property and casualty insurance and life insurance and selling annuities. The Company operates in two segments: property and casualty insurance, and life insurance. The Company’s property and casualty insurance segment consists of commercial lines insurance, including surety bonds, personal lines insurance and assumed insurance.

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