Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Unum Group (NYSE:UNM) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report published on Wednesday morning. Zacks Investment Research currently has $53.00 price target on the financial services provider’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Shares of Unum Group have outperformed industry in a year's time. Moreover, the company has witnessed its 2017 and 2018 estimates moving north over the last 60 days. The company’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.”

Other equities analysts also recently issued research reports about the company. BidaskClub downgraded Unum Group from a strong-buy rating to a buy rating in a research report on Thursday, August 17th. Barclays PLC lifted their price objective on Unum Group from $56.00 to $57.00 and gave the company an overweight rating in a research report on Friday, August 11th. Royal Bank Of Canada reiterated a hold rating on shares of Unum Group in a research report on Wednesday, July 12th. Wells Fargo & Company reiterated a hold rating on shares of Unum Group in a research report on Sunday, July 30th. Finally, ValuEngine upgraded Unum Group from a buy rating to a strong-buy rating in a research report on Friday, September 1st. Two equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, six have assigned a hold rating, three have issued a buy rating and one has issued a strong buy rating to the stock. Unum Group has a consensus rating of Hold and an average price target of $46.44.

Unum Group (NYSE:UNM) opened at 47.77 on Wednesday. Unum Group has a one year low of $33.98 and a one year high of $51.43. The stock’s 50 day moving average price is $48.93 and its 200-day moving average price is $47.25. The firm has a market capitalization of $10.78 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 11.51 and a beta of 1.57.

Unum Group (NYSE:UNM) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, July 27th. The financial services provider reported $1.05 EPS for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.01 by $0.04. The business had revenue of $2.81 billion for 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 previous year, the firm earned $1.00 EPS. On average, equities research analysts anticipate that Unum Group will post $4.17 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

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The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, August 18th. Stockholders of record on Monday, July 31st were given a dividend of $0.23 per share. The ex-dividend date was Thursday, July 27th. This represents a $0.92 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 1.93%. This is an increase from Unum Group’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.20. Unum Group’s payout ratio is presently 22.17%.

Unum Group announced that its board has approved a share repurchase plan on Thursday, May 25th that authorizes the company to repurchase $750.00 million in shares. This repurchase authorization authorizes the financial services provider to buy up to 7.2% of its stock through open market purchases. Stock repurchase plans are typically a sign that the company’s management believes its stock is undervalued.

In related news, Director Pamela H. Godwin sold 2,500 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Monday, August 7th. The stock was sold at an average price of $50.71, for a total value of $126,775.00. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this link. Also, EVP Breege A. Farrell sold 15,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated 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 sold 19,960 shares of company stock valued at $932,391 in the last quarter. 0.53% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. Vanguard Group Inc. increased its holdings in Unum Group by 1.4% in the second quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 24,407,058 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $1,138,102,000 after purchasing an additional 337,531 shares during the last quarter. BlackRock Inc. increased its holdings in 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 purchasing an additional 16,187,062 shares during the last quarter. State Street Corp increased its holdings in Unum Group by 5.0% in the first quarter. State Street Corp now owns 12,119,332 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $568,278,000 after purchasing an additional 573,818 shares during the last quarter. JPMorgan Chase & Co. increased its holdings in Unum Group by 6.3% in the second quarter. JPMorgan Chase & Co. now owns 7,036,701 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $328,121,000 after purchasing an additional 415,909 shares during the last quarter. Finally, AQR Capital Management LLC increased its holdings in 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 purchasing an additional 1,395,330 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 92.37% of the company’s stock.

Unum Group Company Profile

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.

Analyst Recommendations for Unum Group (NYSE:UNM)

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