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W. R. Berkley Prices 4.00% $170 Senior Unsecured Notes

W. R. Berkley Corporation WRB announced the pricing of $170 million aggregate principal amount of senior unsecured notes. The notes carry an interest rate of 4.00% and are scheduled to mature on Aug 15, 2050.

The company plans to deploy the net proceeds to redeem $350 million 5.625% Subordinated Debentures due 2053.

In May, the company had priced $300 million 4.00% senior notes due 2050 and intends to deploy the proceeds to repay $300 million 5.375% senior notes due Sep 15, 2020.

The company displayed prudence by issuing senior notes amid a low interest rate environment to procure funds and enhance financial flexibility without affecting liquidity. W. R. Berkley’s cash and cash equivalents surged 137.5% at second-quarter end from 2019 end level.  

By capitalizing on the low interest rate environment, the company is also attempting to reduce its interest burden, thus facilitating margin expansion. Interest expenses dropped 7.8% in the first half of 2020. Also, the company’s operational strength should enable it to service debt uninterruptedly, thereby maintaining the stock’s creditworthiness.

However, as of Jun 30, 2020, long term debt of the company was about $1.7 billion, up 29% from 2019 end. Debt-to-equity ratio of 50 deteriorated 710 basis points from 2019 end. Nonetheless, W. R. Berkley maintains a solid balance sheet with sufficient liquidity and strong cash flows.

Shares of this Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) property and casualty insurer have lost 9.4% year to date compared with the industry’s decline of 6.9%.

Recently, CNA Financial CNA issued $500 million in aggregate principal amount of 2.050% senior notes due 2030 while MGIC Investment Corporation MTG issued $650 million in aggregate principal amount of 5.250% senior notes due 2028 to capitalize on the low interest rate environment.

Stock to Consider

A better-ranked stock from the same space is The Allstate Corporation ALL, sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

The company delivered earnings surprise of 74.47% in the last-reported quarter.

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