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Harbinger’s Fidelity Falls After Sandler Downgrade

Fidelity & Guaranty Life, the insurer controlled by billionaire Philip Falcone’s Harbinger Group Inc., fell the most since its 2013 initial public offering after Sandler O’Neill & Partners downgraded the stock.

Fidelity dropped 95 cents, or 4.1 percent, to $22.49 at 4:15 p.m. in New York. Sandler analysts led by Edward Shields today cut the company to hold from buy, saying its price-to-book ratio is now comparable to industry rivals after the shares rallied from the IPO.

The stock had jumped 38 percent through yesterday from the December price of $17 in the share sale. That meant the Baltimore-based company was trading at about 90 percent of book value, a measure of assets minus liabilities.

The downgrade is “based solely on valuation, which appears to be fair,” the Sandler analysts wrote. “We believe sales volume may be a little light for FGL” during the quarter that ended June 30.

Harbinger Group still holds about 80 percent of the stock in Fidelity, which trades under the ticker symbol FGL. Falcone’s company also has a majority stake in Spectrum Brands Holdings Inc., the maker of Rayovac batteries and George Foreman grills. Harbinger declined 0.5 percent.

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