Unum Group (UNM) Cut to Hold at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Unum Group (NYSE:UNM) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a report published on Tuesday.

According to Zacks, “Shares of Unum Group have outperformed industry in a year's time. Moreover, the company has witnessed its 2017 and 2018 estimates moving north over the last 60 days. The company’s premiums continue to increase, fueled by solid persistency levels in core business lines and sturdy volume of sales, along with solid benefits experience. Acquisitions have provided an additional support. Starmount Life Insurance Company buyout gave access to growth opportunities in the dental market, which is in sync with its strategy to focus more on the employee benefits business. A sustained favorable performance drives solid capital generation and strong financial flexibility aiding active capital deployment. Unum expects 2017 operating earnings to grow 5–8% over the 2016 level. However, exposure to low interest rate environment remains the key headwind affecting the Unum U.K. results.”

A number of other research analysts have also issued reports on the stock. ValuEngine upgraded shares of Unum Group from a buy rating to a strong-buy rating in a report on Friday, September 1st. BidaskClub lowered shares of Unum Group from a strong-buy rating to a buy rating in a report on Thursday, August 17th. Barclays PLC raised their price objective on shares of Unum Group from $56.00 to $57.00 and gave the company an overweight rating in a report on Friday, August 11th. Wells Fargo & Company reiterated a hold rating on shares of Unum Group in a report on Sunday, July 30th. Finally, Royal Bank Of Canada reiterated a hold rating on shares of Unum Group in a report on Wednesday, July 12th. Two equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, six have given a hold rating, three have given a buy rating and one has assigned a strong buy rating to the stock. Unum Group presently has an average rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $46.56.

Shares of Unum Group (NYSE:UNM) opened at 48.43 on Tuesday. The company has a market capitalization of $10.93 billion, a P/E ratio of 11.66 and a beta of 1.57. The company’s 50 day moving average is $48.87 and its 200-day moving average is $47.23. Unum Group has a 1-year low of $33.98 and a 1-year high of $51.43.

Unum Group (NYSE:UNM) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, July 27th. The financial services provider reported $1.05 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.01 by $0.04. The business had revenue of $2.81 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $2.80 billion. Unum Group had a net margin of 8.57% and a return on equity of 10.23%. During the same quarter last year, the business earned $1.00 EPS. On average, equities research analysts forecast that Unum Group will post $4.17 EPS for the current year.

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Unum Group declared that its board has initiated a stock repurchase program on Thursday, May 25th that permits the company to buyback $750.00 million in shares. This buyback authorization permits the financial services provider to reacquire up to 7.2% of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback programs are generally an indication that the company’s board believes its shares are undervalued.

The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, August 18th. Shareholders of record on Monday, July 31st were issued a dividend of $0.23 per share. This is a positive change from Unum Group’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.20. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Thursday, July 27th. This represents a $0.92 annualized dividend and a yield of 1.90%. Unum Group’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 22.17%.

In other Unum Group news, EVP Breege A. Farrell sold 15,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, June 23rd. The shares were sold at an average price of $45.47, for a total transaction of $682,050.00. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through this hyperlink. Also, Director Pamela H. Godwin sold 2,500 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, August 7th. The stock was 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. In the last 90 days, insiders have sold 19,960 shares of company stock valued at $932,391. Company insiders own 0.53% of the company’s stock.

A number of institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the business. Sentry Investment Management LLC raised its holdings in Unum Group by 1.1% during the 2nd quarter. Sentry Investment Management LLC now owns 18,223 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $850,000 after purchasing an additional 202 shares during the last quarter. Dynamic Technology Lab Private Ltd bought a new stake in shares of Unum Group in the 2nd quarter valued at $246,000. Cambridge Financial Group Inc. increased its stake in shares of Unum Group by 2.5% in the 2nd quarter. Cambridge Financial Group Inc. now owns 120,798 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $5,633,000 after acquiring an additional 2,918 shares in the last quarter. Koch Industries Inc. bought a new stake in shares of Unum Group in the 2nd quarter valued at $209,000. Finally, Piedmont Investment Advisors LLC increased its stake in shares of Unum Group by 3.6% in the 2nd quarter. Piedmont Investment Advisors LLC now owns 27,106 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $1,264,000 after acquiring an additional 937 shares in the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 92.37% of the company’s stock.

Unum Group Company Profile

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.

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