Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Torchmark Corporation (NYSE:TMK) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research note released on Monday.

According to Zacks, “Torchmark’s niche market focus, steady capital deployment and strong operating fundamentals should drive long-term growth. The life insurer estimates life and health sales growth in distribution channels. Also, a strong capital position and robust capital management are key positives. Torchmark now expects net operating income between $4.70 per share and $4.80 per share in 2017 banking on better than expected underwriting income and an increase in investment income, life underwriting income to increase between 2% and 4% while health underwriting income to increase between 1% and 3%. The company has also witnessed it estimates moving north in the last 60 days. However, higher administrative expenses, pension costs and investments in IT systems will likely be a drag on Torchmark’s earnings in the near term. Shares of Torchmark also underperformed the industry year to date.”

A number of other equities analysts also recently weighed in on the company. BidaskClub upgraded Torchmark Corporation from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note on Saturday, June 17th. ValuEngine upgraded Torchmark Corporation from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note on Friday, June 2nd. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods reiterated a hold rating and issued a $75.00 price objective on shares of Torchmark Corporation in a research note on Friday, May 26th. Finally, Barclays PLC boosted their target price on shares of Torchmark Corporation from $65.00 to $67.00 and gave the company an underweight rating in a report on Friday, August 11th. Four investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, four have given a hold rating and two have issued a buy rating to the stock. Torchmark Corporation has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $73.00.

Torchmark Corporation (NYSE TMK) opened at 76.94 on Monday. The company has a 50 day moving average price of $78.23 and a 200-day moving average price of $76.93. Torchmark Corporation has a 52-week low of $62.86 and a 52-week high of $79.90. The firm has a market cap of $8.95 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 16.55 and a beta of 0.98.

Torchmark Corporation (NYSE:TMK) last issued its earnings results on Wednesday, July 26th. The insurance provider reported $1.19 EPS for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.17 by $0.02. Torchmark Corporation had a return on equity of 11.55% and a net margin of 13.96%. The business had revenue of $1.03 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $1.03 billion. During the same period in the previous year, the company posted $1.11 EPS. The firm’s revenue was up 3.7% compared to the same quarter last year. Equities research analysts anticipate that Torchmark Corporation will post $4.75 EPS for the current year.

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The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Wednesday, November 1st. Stockholders of record on Friday, October 6th will be issued a $0.15 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, October 5th. This represents a $0.60 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 0.78%. Torchmark Corporation’s payout ratio is currently 12.88%.

In other news, Director Robert W. Ingram sold 1,827 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Friday, July 28th. The shares were sold at an average price of $78.66, for a total value of $143,711.82. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available at this hyperlink. Also, insider Steven John Dichiaro sold 13,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, August 15th. The stock was sold at an average price of $79.02, for a total transaction of $1,027,260.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the insider now directly owns 21,360 shares in the company, valued at approximately $1,687,867.20. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last ninety days, insiders sold 137,821 shares of company stock worth $10,837,593. Insiders own 3.79% of the company’s stock.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the company. Girard Partners LTD. boosted its position in Torchmark Corporation by 0.3% in the second quarter. Girard Partners LTD. now owns 3,844 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $294,000 after buying an additional 12 shares in the last quarter. Wetherby Asset Management Inc. boosted its position in Torchmark Corporation by 0.6% in the second quarter. Wetherby Asset Management Inc. now owns 4,346 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $332,000 after buying an additional 27 shares in the last quarter. Mason Street Advisors LLC boosted its position in Torchmark Corporation by 0.3% in the first quarter. Mason Street Advisors LLC now owns 15,134 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $1,166,000 after buying an additional 39 shares in the last quarter. Meeder Asset Management Inc. boosted its position in Torchmark Corporation by 0.6% in the second quarter. Meeder Asset Management Inc. now owns 10,455 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $800,000 after buying an additional 59 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Bronfman E.L. Rothschild L.P. boosted its position in Torchmark Corporation by 2.9% in the first quarter. Bronfman E.L. Rothschild L.P. now owns 2,427 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $187,000 after buying an additional 69 shares in the last quarter. 71.92% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

About Torchmark Corporation

Torchmark Corporation (Torchmark) is an insurance holding company. The Company, through its subsidiaries, provides a range of life and health insurance products and annuities to a base of customers. The Company’s segments include life insurance, health insurance, annuities and investment. The life insurance segment includes traditional and interest-sensitive whole life insurance as well as term life insurance.

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