AFLAC (AFL) Stock Rating Lowered by Zacks Investment Research

AFLAC (NYSE:AFL) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “sell” rating in a note issued to investors on Tuesday.

According to Zacks, “Aflac’s shares have underperformed its industry’s growth quarter to date. The company’s persistently low interest rates in Japan have put pressure on revenue growth from the region. Also, valuation of the company looks stretched at the moment. However, the company will invest $250 million in different growth areas benefiting from an easy tax regime. Ample capital enables it to buy back shares and raise dividend payouts. Efforts to increase agent productivity, emphasis on sale of third-sector products, pull back on sale of first-sector products, and new products bode well for the long term. The U.S segment will remain strong on a number of growth initiatives.”

AFL has been the topic of a number of other reports. Sandler O’Neill restated a “hold” rating and set a $47.00 target price on shares of AFLAC in a research report on Thursday, April 5th. Bank of America began coverage on shares of AFLAC in a research report on Monday, March 26th. They set a “neutral” rating and a $49.00 target price on the stock. Credit Suisse Group began coverage on shares of AFLAC in a research report on Wednesday, April 25th. They issued a “neutral” rating and a $49.00 price objective on the stock. Morgan Stanley lifted their price objective on shares of AFLAC from $22.75 to $46.00 and gave the company an “equal weight” rating in a research report on Tuesday, March 27th. Finally, ValuEngine lowered shares of AFLAC from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Monday, March 19th. Four investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, ten have issued a hold rating, two have issued a buy rating and two have assigned a strong buy rating to the stock. AFLAC currently has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $46.46.

Shares of AFLAC traded up $0.03, reaching $42.92, during mid-day trading on Tuesday, according to MarketBeat.com. 70,837 shares of the company’s stock were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 2,976,374. The company has a current ratio of 0.05, a quick ratio of 0.05 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.22. The firm has a market cap of $33.30 billion, a PE ratio of 12.65, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.35 and a beta of 0.97. AFLAC has a 52-week low of $38.31 and a 52-week high of $46.19.

AFLAC (NYSE:AFL) last announced its earnings results on Wednesday, April 25th. The financial services provider reported $1.05 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.97 by $0.08. The business had revenue of $5.46 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $5.48 billion. AFLAC had a net margin of 20.61% and a return on equity of 12.39%. The company’s revenue for the quarter was up 2.9% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period last year, the firm posted $1.47 earnings per share. equities research analysts forecast that AFLAC will post 3.97 EPS for the current fiscal year.

In other AFLAC news, insider Eric M. Kirsch sold 66,447 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Friday, June 29th. The shares were sold at an average price of $43.31, for a total transaction of $2,877,819.57. Following the sale, the insider now directly owns 128,796 shares in the company, valued at approximately $5,578,154.76. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through the SEC website. 1.70% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of AFL. BlackRock Inc. raised its stake in shares of AFLAC by 105.9% during the 1st quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 51,061,717 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $2,234,459,000 after buying an additional 26,264,017 shares during the last quarter. Northern Trust Corp raised its stake in shares of AFLAC by 96.3% during the 1st quarter. Northern Trust Corp now owns 10,631,066 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $465,215,000 after buying an additional 5,215,905 shares during the last quarter. Old Mutual Global Investors UK Ltd. raised its stake in shares of AFLAC by 681.1% during the 1st quarter. Old Mutual Global Investors UK Ltd. now owns 4,891,075 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $214,033,000 after buying an additional 4,264,932 shares during the last quarter. LSV Asset Management raised its stake in shares of AFLAC by 111.3% during the 1st quarter. LSV Asset Management now owns 6,070,376 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $265,639,000 after buying an additional 3,196,878 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Dimensional Fund Advisors LP raised its stake in shares of AFLAC by 98.9% during the 1st quarter. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP now owns 6,240,111 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $273,050,000 after buying an additional 3,103,311 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors own 67.22% of the company’s stock.

About AFLAC

Aflac Incorporated, through its subsidiary, American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus, provides voluntary supplemental health and life insurance products. It operates through two segments, Aflac Japan and Aflac U.S. The Aflac Japan segment offers voluntary supplemental insurance products, including cancer plans, general medical indemnity plans, medical/sickness riders, care plans, living benefit life plans, ordinary life insurance plans, and annuities in Japan.

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