Markets & Finance

Piper Jaffray Ups Selective Insurance Group

Piper Jaffray raised its investment recommendation on Selective Insurance Group (SIGI) to outperform.

Analyst Mike Grasher said third quarter operating earnings per share of $1.16 were ahead of his 88 cents estimate and the consensus of 93 cents. He says the company's GAAP loss ratio narrowed to 63.9% from his estimate of 67%, improving from 66.7% a year ago. He estimates a 1% change in loss ration impacts earnings per share by 8 cents. He says results reflect the company's prudent underwriting standards and improving profitability within its Services business. He upped his 2005 earnings per share estiamte to $4.32 from $4.00 on revenue of $1.67 billion, up from $1.66 billion. He also ups his 2006 earnings per share estimate to $4.75 from $4.30 on revenue of $1.81 billion up from $1.76 billion. He kept a $55 price target on the stock.

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