Metlife (MET) Cut to Hold at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Metlife (NYSE:MET) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research report report published on Tuesday.

According to Zacks, “MetLife’s efforts to streamline business, only to focus on core business, are really impressive. Its revenues grew in 2017 after declining for two years and the trend is likely to continue in 2018. Its strong international operations and disciplined capital management should drive long-term growth. shares have The stock has underperformed its industry in a year's time. The stock has seen the Zacks Consensus Estimate for current-year earnings being revised upward over the last 60 days. Nevertheless, exposure to catastrophe losses and investment in efficiency programs will put pressure on margins.”

Other analysts also recently issued research reports about the stock. Wells Fargo & Co reiterated a buy rating on shares of Metlife in a report on Tuesday, May 8th. Deutsche Bank dropped their price target on shares of Metlife from $51.00 to $48.00 and set a hold rating for the company in a research note on Friday, May 4th. Sandler O’Neill set a $47.00 price target on shares of Metlife and gave the stock a hold rating in a research note on Thursday, April 5th. ValuEngine downgraded shares of Metlife from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research note on Wednesday, May 2nd. Finally, Atlantic Securities upgraded shares of Metlife from a neutral rating to an overweight rating in a research note on Monday, March 26th. Two research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, eleven have assigned a hold rating and eight have issued a buy rating to the stock. Metlife currently has an average rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $56.81.

Metlife opened at $43.40 on Tuesday, Marketbeat Ratings reports. Metlife has a fifty-two week low of $43.25 and a fifty-two week high of $55.91. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.30, a current ratio of 0.15 and a quick ratio of 0.15. The company has a market capitalization of $44.30 billion, a P/E ratio of 9.64, a P/E/G ratio of 0.75 and a beta of 1.23.

Metlife (NYSE:MET) last posted its earnings results on Wednesday, May 2nd. The financial services provider reported $1.36 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.17 by $0.19. Metlife had a net margin of 6.48% and a return on equity of 8.70%. The firm had revenue of $15.15 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $15.52 billion. During the same quarter last year, the firm earned $1.20 EPS. The firm’s revenue for the quarter was up .6% on a year-over-year basis. sell-side analysts expect that Metlife will post 5.07 EPS for the current year.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Wednesday, June 13th. Investors of record on Monday, May 7th were paid a dividend of $0.42 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Friday, May 4th. This represents a $1.68 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 3.87%. This is an increase from Metlife’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.40. Metlife’s payout ratio is presently 37.33%.

Metlife declared that its Board of Directors has approved a share repurchase program on Tuesday, May 22nd that permits the company to buyback $1.50 billion in shares. This buyback authorization permits the financial services provider to buy up to 3.1% of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback programs are usually an indication that the company’s management believes its stock is undervalued.

In related news, Director Gerald L. Hassell purchased 10,000 shares of Metlife stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, May 9th. The stock was purchased at an average cost of $46.18 per share, with a total value of $461,800.00. The acquisition was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this hyperlink. Insiders own 0.34% of the company’s stock.

A number of institutional investors and hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. BlackRock Inc. lifted its position in Metlife by 1.8% in the first quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 74,542,993 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $3,420,777,000 after acquiring an additional 1,346,914 shares during the last quarter. Epoch Investment Partners Inc. raised its holdings in shares of Metlife by 10.7% in the first quarter. Epoch Investment Partners Inc. now owns 11,715,725 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $537,635,000 after buying an additional 1,136,376 shares during the last quarter. Diamond Hill Capital Management Inc. raised its holdings in shares of Metlife by 38.5% in the first quarter. Diamond Hill Capital Management Inc. now owns 10,883,295 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $499,434,000 after buying an additional 3,027,327 shares during the last quarter. Pzena Investment Management LLC raised its holdings in shares of Metlife by 3.1% in the first quarter. Pzena Investment Management LLC now owns 5,967,922 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $273,868,000 after buying an additional 178,543 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Schwab Charles Investment Management Inc. raised its holdings in shares of Metlife by 2.7% in the first quarter. Schwab Charles Investment Management Inc. now owns 3,814,993 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $175,071,000 after buying an additional 101,730 shares during the last quarter. 77.25% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

Metlife Company Profile

MetLife, Inc engages in the insurance, annuities, employee benefits, and asset management businesses. It operates through five segments: U.S.; Asia; Latin America; Europe, the Middle East and Africa; and MetLife Holdings. The company offers life, dental, group short- and long-term disability, individual disability, accidental death and dismemberment, vision, and accident and health coverages, as well as prepaid legal plans; administrative services-only arrangements to employers; and stable value products, including general and separate account guaranteed interest contracts, and private floating rate funding agreements.

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