Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of Unum Group (NYSE:UNM) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research report released on Wednesday.

According to Zacks, “Unum Group’s premiums continue to increase, fueled by solid persistency levels in core business lines and sturdy volume of sales, along with solid benefits experience. Acquisitions have provided an additional support. Starmount Life Insurance Company buyout gave access to growth opportunities in the dental market, which is in sync with its strategy to focus more on the employee benefits business. A sustained favorable performance drives solid capital generation and strong financial flexibility aiding active capital deployment. Unum expects 2017 operating earnings to grow 5–8% over the 2016 level. However, exposure to low interest rate environment remains the key headwind affecting the Unum U.K. results. Also, shares of Unum Group have underperformed industry year to date. With respect to quarterly results, Unum Group’s second-quarter 2017 earnings outpaced our expectations and also improved year over year.”

Other analysts have also issued research reports about the company. BidaskClub raised Unum Group from a buy rating to a strong-buy rating in a research note on Friday, August 11th. Royal Bank Of Canada reaffirmed a hold rating on shares of Unum Group in a research note on Wednesday, July 12th. Barclays PLC raised their price target on Unum Group from $56.00 to $57.00 and gave the stock an overweight rating in a research note on Friday, August 11th. Finally, Wells Fargo & Company reaffirmed a hold rating on shares of Unum Group in a research note on Sunday, July 30th. Two analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, six have given a hold rating and three have assigned a buy rating to the stock. The stock currently has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus target price of $46.56.

Unum Group (NYSE UNM) opened at 48.55 on Wednesday. The company has a 50-day moving average of $48.81 and a 200 day moving average of $47.25. The firm has a market capitalization of $10.96 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 11.69 and a beta of 1.56. Unum Group has a one year low of $33.98 and a one year high of $51.43.

Unum Group (NYSE:UNM) last released its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, July 27th. The financial services provider reported $1.05 earnings per share for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.01 by $0.04. The firm had revenue of $2.81 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $2.80 billion. Unum Group had a return on equity of 10.23% and a net margin of 8.57%. During the same quarter in the prior year, the firm posted $1.00 earnings per share. On average, analysts anticipate that Unum Group will post $4.17 EPS for the current year.

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The firm also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, August 18th. Investors of record on Monday, July 31st were paid a $0.23 dividend. This is a positive change from Unum Group’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.20. The ex-dividend date was Thursday, July 27th. This represents a $0.92 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 1.89%. Unum Group’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 22.17%.

Unum Group declared that its Board of Directors has approved a stock repurchase plan on Thursday, May 25th that permits the company to buyback $750.00 million in shares. This buyback authorization permits the financial services provider to reacquire up to 7.2% of its shares through open market purchases. Shares buyback plans are usually a sign that the company’s management believes its stock is undervalued.

In other Unum Group news, Director Gloria C. Larson sold 2,460 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, August 1st. The stock was sold at an average price of $50.23, for a total transaction of $123,565.80. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through this link. Also, EVP Breege A. Farrell sold 15,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Friday, June 23rd. The shares were sold at an average price of $45.47, for a total value of $682,050.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold 19,960 shares of company stock valued at $932,391 in the last three months. Insiders own 0.53% of the company’s stock.

Institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. BlackRock Inc. raised its position in shares of Unum Group by 2,690.7% in the first quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 16,788,648 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $787,221,000 after buying an additional 16,187,062 shares in the last quarter. Janus Henderson Group PLC raised its position in shares of Unum Group by 8,280.8% in the second quarter. Janus Henderson Group PLC now owns 2,062,519 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $96,175,000 after buying an additional 2,037,909 shares in the last quarter. AQR Capital Management LLC raised its position in shares of Unum Group by 32.4% in the first quarter. AQR Capital Management LLC now owns 5,699,745 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $267,262,000 after buying an additional 1,395,330 shares in the last quarter. Boston Partners raised its position in shares of Unum Group by 16.6% in the first quarter. Boston Partners now owns 9,564,880 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $448,498,000 after buying an additional 1,358,289 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Prudential Financial Inc. raised its position in shares of Unum Group by 75.8% in the first quarter. Prudential Financial Inc. now owns 2,381,719 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $111,679,000 after buying an additional 1,026,653 shares in the last quarter. 92.84% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

About Unum Group

Unum Group is a provider of financial protection benefits in the United States and the United Kingdom. The Company’s products include disability, life, accident, critical illness, dental and vision, and other related services. Its segments include Unum US, Unum UK, Colonial Life, Closed Block and Corporate.

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