Travelers stock leads the Dow's decliners after J.P. Morgan turns bearish

MARKET PULSE

Shares of Travelers Companies Inc. (trv) fell 0.8%, to pace the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s (djia) premarket decliners, after J.P. Morgan analyst Jimmy Bhullar turned bearish on the property and casualty insurer, citing concerns over poor return on equity, lackluster business trends and potential earnings risk. Bhullar cut his rating to underweight from neutral while keeping his stock price target at $129. “[W]e are concerned about the company’s high exposure to the workers’ comp. market, where we anticipate continued margin compression (off high levels), and to commercial auto, where we expect ongoing poor margins (off already depressed levels),” Bhullar wrote in a note to clients. He added that the company’s small and mid-market focus makes it more vulnerable to a recession than most peers, and expects a “challenging tort environment” and a diminishing benefit from favorable reserve developments will hold back earnings growth. The stock has shed 15.4% year to date through Friday, while the SPDR S&P Insurance ETF (kie) has declined 15.9% and the Dow has edged up 0.2%.

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