Aflac Incorporated (AFL) Cut to “Hold” at Zacks Investment Research
Zacks Investment Research cut shares of Aflac Incorporated (NYSE:AFL) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research report report published on Monday.
According to Zacks, “Aflac shares have outperformed its industry year to date. Efforts to increase agent productivity, emphasis on sale of third-sector products, pull back on sale of first-sector products, and the introduction of new products are likely to drive long-term growth. Its strong capital position enables it to buy back shares and increase dividend payouts. Its U.S segment continues to perform strongly and will continue as company has undertaken a number of growth initiatives in this business. A favorable earnings guidance against the back drop of continued challenges in its Japan business instills our confidence in the company. Also, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2017 and 2018 moved up 2.3% and 0.7%, respectively, in the last 60 days. Nevertheless, persistent low interest rates in Japan have put pressure on revenue growth from the region. Also branch conversion cost might drain margins to some extent.”
Other equities research analysts have also recently issued reports about the stock. ValuEngine raised shares of Aflac from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report on Tuesday, August 1st. BidaskClub cut shares of Aflac from a sell rating to a strong sell rating in a research report on Tuesday, August 1st. Barclays PLC boosted their price target on shares of Aflac from $73.00 to $79.00 and gave the company an equal weight rating in a research report on Friday, August 11th. FBR & Co reissued a market perform rating and issued a $80.00 price target (up from $68.00) on shares of Aflac in a research report on Wednesday, July 12th. Finally, Royal Bank Of Canada reissued a sell rating and issued a $66.00 price target on shares of Aflac in a research report on Wednesday, July 12th. Five investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, five have issued a hold rating and five have issued a buy rating to the company. The stock presently has an average rating of Hold and a consensus target price of $77.77.
Aflac (NYSE:AFL) opened at 83.78 on Monday. The stock has a market cap of $33.11 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 12.67 and a beta of 0.97. The company has a 50-day moving average price of $81.36 and a 200-day moving average price of $76.68. Aflac has a 52 week low of $66.50 and a 52 week high of $84.24.
Aflac (NYSE:AFL) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, July 27th. The financial services provider reported $1.83 earnings per share for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.63 by $0.20. Aflac had a net margin of 11.98% and a return on equity of 13.09%. The firm had revenue of $5.43 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $5.48 billion. During the same period in the previous year, the company earned $1.65 earnings per share. Aflac’s quarterly revenue was down .2% compared to the same quarter last year. Equities research analysts anticipate that Aflac will post $6.69 EPS for the current year.
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Aflac announced that its Board of Directors has approved a share repurchase plan on Tuesday, August 8th that allows the company to repurchase 40,000,000 shares. This repurchase authorization allows the financial services provider to repurchase shares of its stock through open market purchases. Shares repurchase plans are typically a sign that the company’s board believes its shares are undervalued.
The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, September 1st. Stockholders of record on Wednesday, August 23rd were issued a $0.43 dividend. The ex-dividend date was Monday, August 21st. This represents a $1.72 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.06%. Aflac’s payout ratio is 25.94%.
In related news, President Kriss Cloninger III sold 3,500 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Friday, August 4th. The shares were sold at an average price of $81.06, for a total transaction of $283,710.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the president now directly owns 253,196 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $20,524,067.76. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at the SEC website. Also, Director Elizabeth J. Hudson sold 1,279 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Thursday, September 21st. The stock was sold at an average price of $83.76, for a total transaction of $107,129.04. Following the transaction, the director now directly owns 11,075 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $927,642. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold 31,279 shares of company stock valued at $2,611,959 over the last ninety days. Corporate insiders own 3.00% of the company’s stock.
A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of AFL. Atwood & Palmer Inc. raised its holdings in Aflac by 320.5% during the second quarter. Atwood & Palmer Inc. now owns 1,312 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $102,000 after purchasing an additional 1,000 shares in the last quarter. CWM LLC raised its holdings in Aflac by 2.1% during the second quarter. CWM LLC now owns 1,430 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $111,000 after purchasing an additional 30 shares in the last quarter. Harfst & Associates Inc. purchased a new position in Aflac during the first quarter worth about $128,000. Capital Analysts LLC purchased a new position in Aflac during the second quarter worth about $131,000. Finally, Washington Trust Bank raised its holdings in Aflac by 0.9% during the second quarter. Washington Trust Bank now owns 1,704 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $132,000 after purchasing an additional 16 shares in the last quarter. 65.63% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.
Aflac Incorporated is a business holding company. The Company is involved in supplemental health and life insurance, which is marketed and administered through its subsidiary, American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus (Aflac). The Company’s insurance business consists of two segments: Aflac Japan and Aflac U.S.
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