Critical Comparison: Mercury General Corporation (MCY) versus Safety Insurance Group (SAFT)

Mercury General Corporation (NYSE: MCY) and Safety Insurance Group (NASDAQ:SAFT) are both finance companies, but which is the superior investment? We will contrast the two companies based on the strength of their valuation, profitability, risk, institutional ownership, earnings, dividends and analyst recommendations.

Dividends

Mercury General Corporation pays an annual dividend of $2.49 per share and has a dividend yield of 4.3%. Safety Insurance Group pays an annual dividend of $2.80 per share and has a dividend yield of 3.9%. Mercury General Corporation pays out 172.9% of its earnings in the form of a dividend, suggesting it may not have sufficient earnings to cover its dividend payment in the future. Safety Insurance Group pays out 66.7% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. Mercury General Corporation has raised its dividend for 31 consecutive years. Mercury General Corporation is clearly the better dividend stock, given its higher yield and longer track record of dividend growth.

Valuation and Earnings

This table compares Mercury General Corporation and Safety Insurance Group’s top-line revenue, earnings per share (EPS) and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Mercury General Corporation $3.25 billion 0.99 $116.43 million $1.44 40.28
Safety Insurance Group $830.06 million 1.31 $108.19 million $4.20 17.05

Mercury General Corporation has higher revenue and earnings than Safety Insurance Group. Safety Insurance Group is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than Mercury General Corporation, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Profitability

This table compares Mercury General Corporation and Safety Insurance Group’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Mercury General Corporation 2.45% 6.66% 2.43%
Safety Insurance Group 7.67% 9.33% 3.57%

Institutional & Insider Ownership

46.5% of Mercury General Corporation shares are owned by institutional investors. Comparatively, 79.0% of Safety Insurance Group shares are owned by institutional investors. 34.3% of Mercury General Corporation shares are owned by company insiders. Comparatively, 4.9% of Safety Insurance Group shares are owned by company insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that hedge funds, endowments and large money managers believe a stock is poised for long-term growth.

Analyst Recommendations

This is a summary of current ratings and target prices for Mercury General Corporation and Safety Insurance Group, as reported by MarketBeat.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Mercury General Corporation 0 0 0 0 N/A
Safety Insurance Group 0 0 0 0 N/A

Volatility and Risk

Mercury General Corporation has a beta of 0.5, suggesting that its share price is 50% less volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Safety Insurance Group has a beta of 0.77, suggesting that its share price is 23% less volatile than the S&P 500.

Summary

Safety Insurance Group beats Mercury General Corporation on 8 of the 14 factors compared between the two stocks.

Mercury General Corporation Company Profile

Mercury General Corporation is an insurance holding company. As of December 31, 2016, the Company and its subsidiaries were engaged in writing personal automobile insurance through 14 insurance subsidiaries in 11 states, principally California. Its segments include Property and Casualty Lines, and Other Lines. Its Property and Casualty segment offers various insurance products to its individual customers and small business customers. Its Other segment offers automobile mechanical breakdown warranties, which are sold through automobile dealerships and credit unions. It also writes homeowners, commercial automobile, commercial property, mechanical breakdown and umbrella insurance. Its insurance policies are sold through independent agents. As of December 31, 2016, it sold its policies through approximately 9,700 independent agents, its owned insurance agencies, Auto Insurance Specialists LLC and PoliSeek AIS Insurance Solutions, Inc., and directly through Internet sales portals.

Safety Insurance Group Company Profile

Safety Insurance Group, Inc. is a provider of private passenger automobile insurance. The Company offers a portfolio of property and casualty insurance products. The Company is engaged in property and casualty insurance operations. The Company’s product line includes private passenger automobile, commercial automobile, homeowners, business owners’ policies, personal umbrella, dwelling fire, commercial umbrella, inland marine and watercraft. The Company operates through its insurance company subsidiaries, Safety Insurance Company, Safety Indemnity Insurance Company, and Safety Property and Casualty Insurance Company. Private passenger automobile policies provide coverage for bodily injury and property damage to others, no-fault personal injury coverage for the insured/insured’s car occupants, and physical damage coverage for an insured’s own vehicle for collision or other perils. Commercial automobile policies provide coverage for bodily injury and property damage to others.

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