Torchmark Co. (TMK) Upgraded by Zacks Investment Research to “Hold”

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Torchmark Co. (NYSE:TMK) from a sell rating to a hold rating in a report released on Friday.

According to Zacks, “Torchmark’s niche market focus, steady capital deployment and strong operating fundamentals should drive long-term growth and thus drive shares higher. Torchmark estimates life and health sales growth in distribution channels. Also, a strong capital position and robust capital management are key positives. Torchmark expects net operating income between $4.57 and $4.77 in 2017. Also, shares of Torchmark outperformed the Zacks categorized Life Insurance industry, year to date. However, higher administrative expenses, pension costs and investments in IT systems will likely be a drag on Torchmark’s earnings in the near term.”

A number of other brokerages have also weighed in on TMK. Bank of America Corp lowered Torchmark from a neutral rating to an underperform rating in a research note on Friday, November 18th. Barclays PLC restated a sell rating and issued a $65.00 target price on shares of Torchmark in a research note on Monday, January 9th. Evercore ISI lowered Torchmark from a hold rating to a sell rating and set a $70.00 target price on the stock. in a research note on Wednesday, January 11th. Finally, Deutsche Bank AG upped their target price on Torchmark from $60.00 to $69.00 and gave the stock a hold rating in a research note on Monday, January 23rd. Six research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating and five have assigned a hold rating to the stock. The stock presently has a consensus rating of Sell and a consensus price target of $66.13.

Analyst Recommendations for Torchmark (NYSE:TMK)

Shares of Torchmark (NYSE:TMK) traded down 0.08% during trading on Friday, hitting $78.57. The stock had a trading volume of 205,691 shares. The company has a market capitalization of $9.25 billion, a PE ratio of 17.49 and a beta of 0.99. Torchmark has a 52 week low of $52.46 and a 52 week high of $79.53. The firm has a 50-day moving average price of $76.61 and a 200 day moving average price of $70.57.

Torchmark (NYSE:TMK) last released its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, February 1st. The company reported $1.16 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.13 by $0.03. Torchmark had a return on equity of 11.52% and a net margin of 13.95%. The company had revenue of $975 million for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $989.40 million. During the same period in the previous year, the company posted $1.05 EPS. The firm’s revenue for the quarter was up 4.4% compared to the same quarter last year. Equities analysts anticipate that Torchmark will post $4.69 earnings per share for the current year.

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The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, May 1st. Stockholders of record on Monday, April 3rd will be issued a $0.15 dividend. This is a boost from Torchmark’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.14. This represents a $0.60 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 0.76%. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, March 30th. Torchmark’s dividend payout ratio is presently 12.42%.

In other news, VP Ben Lutek sold 32,500 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Friday, February 3rd. The stock was sold at an average price of $74.44, for a total value of $2,419,300.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the vice president now directly owns 33,600 shares in the company, valued at approximately $2,501,184. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through the SEC website. Also, insider Steven John Dichiaro sold 15,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Friday, February 24th. The stock was sold at an average price of $77.34, for a total value of $1,160,100.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the insider now owns 23,360 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $1,806,662.40. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold a total of 116,028 shares of company stock valued at $8,844,204 over the last quarter. Company insiders own 3.96% of the company’s stock.

A number of large investors have recently modified their holdings of TMK. Equity Investment Corp Acquisition Inc bought a new stake in shares of Torchmark during the fourth quarter valued at $68,376,000. Russell Investments Group Ltd. bought a new stake in shares of Torchmark during the fourth quarter valued at $8,924,000. BlackRock Japan Co. Ltd boosted its stake in shares of Torchmark by 1.2% in the third quarter. BlackRock Japan Co. Ltd now owns 151,315 shares of the company’s stock valued at $9,668,000 after buying an additional 1,731 shares in the last quarter. State of Tennessee Treasury Department boosted its stake in shares of Torchmark by 5.2% in the third quarter. State of Tennessee Treasury Department now owns 236,628 shares of the company’s stock valued at $15,118,000 after buying an additional 11,610 shares in the last quarter. Finally, BlackRock Investment Management LLC boosted its stake in shares of Torchmark by 0.9% in the third quarter. BlackRock Investment Management LLC now owns 258,984 shares of the company’s stock valued at $16,546,000 after buying an additional 2,276 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors own 73.68% of the company’s stock.

About Torchmark

Torchmark Corporation (Torchmark) is an insurance holding company. The Company, through its subsidiaries, provides a range of life and health insurance products and annuities to a base of customers. The Company’s segments include life insurance, health insurance, annuities and investment. The life insurance segment includes traditional and interest-sensitive whole life insurance as well as term life insurance.

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