Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (The) assumed coverage on shares of Unum Group (NYSE:UNM) in a report released on Wednesday morning. The firm issued a sell rating and a $48.00 price objective on the financial services provider’s stock.

“We believe that MET should also see value uplift as the market better appreciates the stability in the remaining business following the last 12 months that were highlighted by balance sheet and earnings volatility related to the company’s US retail separation,” the firm said.See also: Jim Cramer Advises His Viewers On Metlife, Brighthouse Financial And B&G Foods Athene Holding: Best Positioned To Deploy CapitalGoldman believes Athene Holdings is best positioned to deploy capital, which could fuel growth in a variety of interest rate scenarios. The firm sees the company to be its top pick among the higher-beta names, as excess capital and debt could help earnings per share growth.The firm believes out of the $3.5 billion of combined debt and equity capacity, $750 million to $1.25 billion could be put to work in the near term. This, according to the firm, could lead to 7–13 percent earnings per share accretion, posing upside risk to its estimates, which assume deployment only through organic means.Lincoln PressuredThe firm sees earnings and capital pressure for Lincoln from universal life insurance. While noting that the company has maintained its earnings power in its life insurance business through the cost of insurance increases and reinsurance captures, the firm said it expects a slowdown in the cost of insurance increases following impending litigation and regulatory scrutiny from the New York Department of Financial Services.The firm said this could hurt earnings from the life insurance business. Additionally, the firm said it would pose some risk heading into the third quarter actuarial review as well as the goodwill review in the fourth quarter.Unum: Valuation Downside SeenGoldman sees downside to Unum’s valuation, as it believes the closed block has negative value. Additionally, the firm said getting capital back out of the LTC business is less likely.”Our roughly $800m negative value on the LTC business is reflective of the assumption that the cash drag continues for about 10 years, which we did not feel was overly punitive given the more than 20-year duration of the product,,” the firm’s analyst commented.

Several other brokerages also recently weighed in on UNM. Morgan Stanley boosted their price target on shares of Unum Group from $52.00 to $55.00 and gave the stock an equal weight rating in a research report on Thursday, October 5th. Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Unum Group from a hold rating to a buy rating and set a $53.00 price target on the stock in a research report on Wednesday, September 6th. BidaskClub downgraded shares of Unum Group from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research report on Wednesday, July 19th. ValuEngine upgraded shares of Unum Group from a buy rating to a strong-buy rating in a research report on Friday, September 1st. Finally, Wells Fargo & Company restated a hold rating on shares of Unum Group in a research report on Sunday, July 30th. Two research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, six have given a hold rating, four have issued a buy rating and one has issued a strong buy rating to the stock. Unum Group presently has an average rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $51.00.

Shares of Unum Group (UNM) opened at 52.29 on Wednesday. Unum Group has a 52 week low of $34.83 and a 52 week high of $52.91. The company has a market capitalization of $11.80 billion, a PE ratio of 12.59 and a beta of 1.59. The firm’s 50-day moving average price is $50.38 and its 200 day moving average price is $47.90.

Unum Group (NYSE:UNM) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, July 27th. The financial services provider reported $1.05 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.01 by $0.04. Unum Group had a net margin of 8.57% and a return on equity of 10.23%. The company had revenue of $2.81 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $2.80 billion. During the same period last year, the firm posted $1.00 EPS. Equities analysts predict that Unum Group will post $4.17 EPS for the current year.

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The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, November 17th. Stockholders of record on Monday, October 30th will be given a $0.23 dividend. This represents a $0.92 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 1.76%. The ex-dividend date is Friday, October 27th. Unum Group’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is currently 22.17%.

In other Unum Group news, Director Gloria C. Larson sold 2,460 shares of Unum Group stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, August 1st. The shares were sold at an average price of $50.23, for a total value of $123,565.80. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, Director Pamela H. Godwin sold 2,500 shares of Unum Group stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, August 7th. The shares were sold at an average price of $50.71, for a total transaction of $126,775.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders own 0.53% of the company’s stock.

Several institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of UNM. BB&T Investment Services Inc. acquired a new stake in shares of Unum Group in the second quarter worth $100,000. Jacobi Capital Management LLC acquired a new stake in shares of Unum Group in the second quarter worth $159,000. Huntington National Bank lifted its stake in shares of Unum Group by 25.8% in the second quarter. Huntington National Bank now owns 3,417 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $160,000 after buying an additional 700 shares during the last quarter. Johnson Financial Group Inc. lifted its stake in shares of Unum Group by 4.7% in the first quarter. Johnson Financial Group Inc. now owns 4,446 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $208,000 after buying an additional 200 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Gotham Asset Management LLC acquired a new stake in shares of Unum Group in the first quarter worth $208,000. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 92.20% of the company’s stock.

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.

Analyst Recommendations for Unum Group (NYSE:UNM)

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