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Compass Point downgrades AmTrust Financial, sees little near-term upside

Compass Point analyst Ken Billingsley has downgraded his call on AmTrust Financial Services Inc. to "neutral" as he does not see much upside, and predicted more risks, for the company's shares in the near term.

Billingsley flagged the fact that AmTrust will not report fourth-quarter 2017 earnings prior to Maiden Holdings Ltd., which will give a preview into the former's performance and the potential for near-term risks and speculation. There is no set date on when AmTrust Financial will disclose its latest earnings figures.

The Compass Point analyst said that, given the nonbinding offer to take AmTrust private at $12.25 per share, there is less room for shares to move higher as any noise in Maiden Holdings' earnings will likely be extrapolated to AmTrust's expectations.

Billingsley also said that a delay in the company filing its Form 10-K for 2017 could hurt share prices given recent restatements and a disclosure in its annual filing for 2016 that the company found a "material weakness" in its internal controls.

Billingsley's price target on the stock is $15, and his 2018 EPS estimate is $1.36.