AFLAC Incorporated (AFL) Upgraded by Zacks Investment Research to Buy

AFLAC Incorporated (NYSE:AFL) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research report issued to clients and investors on Monday, April 17th. The firm currently has a $82.00 target price on the financial services provider’s stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s target price points to a potential upside of 11.23% from the stock’s current price.

According to Zacks, “Aflac’s efforts to increase agent productivity, emphasis on sale of third-sector products, pull back on sale of first-sector products, introduction of new product like cancer insurance are likely to drive long-term growth. Its strong capital position enables it to buy back shares and increase dividend payouts. Its 2017 Zacks Consensus earnings estimates have also gone up over the past 60 days. But it remains exposed to a challenging operating environment, primarily in Japan. Moreover, its U.S. business has been facing stiff competition in the middle market, which in turn, has been denting its sales. In 2016, the company recorded disappointing U.S. sales figures. Despite writing almost $1.5 billion in new premiums, the company did not achieve its 2016 sales growth target of 3–5%. The shares have underperformed the Zacks categorized Accident and Health Insurance industry year to date.”

AFL has been the subject of a number of other research reports. Royal Bank of Canada reissued an “underperform” rating and issued a $62.00 price objective (down previously from $65.00) on shares of AFLAC in a report on Thursday, February 2nd. JPMorgan Chase & Co. raised shares of AFLAC from a “neutral” rating to an “overweight” rating and upped their price target for the stock from $71.71 to $75.00 in a report on Monday, February 27th. Citigroup Inc initiated coverage on shares of AFLAC in a research report on Thursday, January 26th. They issued a “neutral” rating and a $73.00 price target for the company. Evercore ISI upgraded shares of AFLAC from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Wednesday, January 11th. Finally, Bank of America Corp upgraded shares of AFLAC from an “underperform” rating to a “neutral” rating and raised their price target for the stock from $75.00 to $78.00 in a report on Thursday, April 6th. They noted that the move was a valuation call. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have issued a hold rating and three have issued a buy rating to the stock. The company currently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $73.71.

Analyst Recommendations for AFLAC (NYSE:AFL)

AFLAC (NYSE:AFL) traded up 0.170% on Monday, hitting $73.845. The company had a trading volume of 1,594,675 shares. AFLAC has a 12-month low of $66.50 and a 12-month high of $76.88. The stock has a market cap of $29.31 billion, a P/E ratio of 12.011 and a beta of 1.01. The firm’s 50 day moving average price is $73.80 and its 200 day moving average price is $71.42.

AFLAC (NYSE:AFL) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, April 27th. The financial services provider reported $1.67 EPS for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.62 by $0.05. AFLAC had a net margin of 11.79% and a return on equity of 13.10%. The business had revenue of $5.31 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $5.40 billion. During the same quarter in the prior year, the business earned $1.74 EPS. AFLAC’s quarterly revenue was down 2.6% on a year-over-year basis. Equities analysts predict that AFLAC will post $6.52 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, June 1st. Stockholders of record on Wednesday, May 24th will be issued a $0.43 dividend. The ex-dividend date is Monday, May 22nd. This represents a $1.72 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.33%. AFLAC’s payout ratio is 26.75%.

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In related news, insider Hiroshi Yamauchi sold 19,850 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Wednesday, February 22nd. The shares were sold at an average price of $71.00, for a total transaction of $1,409,350.00. Following the completion of the sale, the insider now directly owns 93,594 shares in the company, valued at approximately $6,645,174. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this link. Also, insider Audrey B. Tillman sold 900 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Monday, March 13th. The shares were sold at an average price of $71.96, for a total transaction of $64,764.00. Following the sale, the insider now owns 31,185 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $2,244,072.60. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last 90 days, insiders sold 41,937 shares of company stock valued at $3,002,594. Company insiders own 3.90% of the company’s stock.

A number of large investors have recently bought and sold shares of AFL. CWM LLC raised its stake in AFLAC by 7.7% in the first quarter. CWM LLC now owns 1,400 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $101,000 after buying an additional 100 shares in the last quarter. Parallel Advisors LLC purchased a new stake in AFLAC during the fourth quarter worth approximately $115,000. TLP Group LLC purchased a new stake in AFLAC during the third quarter worth approximately $123,000. Mosaic Family Wealth LLC raised its stake in AFLAC by 41.7% in the third quarter. Mosaic Family Wealth LLC now owns 1,766 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $127,000 after buying an additional 520 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Harfst & Associates Inc. purchased a new stake in AFLAC during the first quarter worth approximately $128,000. Institutional investors own 62.45% of the company’s stock.

About AFLAC

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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