Manulife Financial (MFC) Raised to Buy at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Manulife Financial (NYSE:MFC) (TSE:MFC) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report released on Tuesday. They currently have $23.00 price objective on the financial services provider’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Manulife continues to witness new business volumes, particularly in Asia, and positive net flows in its wealth and asset management businesses, driving long-term earnings growth. It remains on track to achieve more than $100 million in expense synergies. However, declining group benefit sales in Canada segment will weigh on results. Volatile global equity markets coupled with low bond yields has largely affected the company’s capital position. Manulife will lower allocation to alternative long duration assets over the next 12-18 months to free up $2 billion capital. This strategic initiative will also improve the company’s risk profile as the same will help lower its volatility in legacy blocks. Shares of Manulife underperformed the industry in a year’s time. Also with the new tax structure Manulife will incur $1.9 billion or 96 cents charge per share but net and core earnings might rise by $250 million per year from next year.”

A number of other equities analysts have also commented on MFC. ValuEngine lowered Manulife Financial from a strong-buy rating to a buy rating in a research note on Monday, September 18th. Morgan Stanley lifted their price objective on Manulife Financial from $26.00 to $27.00 and gave the stock an equal weight rating in a research note on Thursday, October 5th. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a hold rating and three have given a buy rating to the stock. Manulife Financial presently has a consensus rating of Buy and a consensus price target of $25.00.

Manulife Financial (MFC) traded up $0.53 during trading on Tuesday, hitting $21.40. The stock had a trading volume of 2,664,200 shares, compared to its average volume of 2,317,433. The company has a market capitalization of $42,470.00, a price-to-earnings ratio of 14.66, a PEG ratio of 1.09 and a beta of 1.33. Manulife Financial has a twelve month low of $16.62 and a twelve month high of $21.69.

The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Tuesday, December 19th. Investors of record on Tuesday, November 21st were paid a dividend of $0.1606 per share. The ex-dividend date was Monday, November 20th. This represents a $0.64 annualized dividend and a yield of 3.00%. Manulife Financial’s dividend payout ratio is 43.84%.

A number of institutional investors and hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of the stock. MML Investors Services LLC increased its stake in Manulife Financial by 1.6% during the second quarter. MML Investors Services LLC now owns 16,014 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $300,000 after acquiring an additional 245 shares during the period. M&T Bank Corp increased its stake in Manulife Financial by 1.8% during the second quarter. M&T Bank Corp now owns 41,840 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $785,000 after acquiring an additional 754 shares during the period. D.A. Davidson & CO. increased its stake in Manulife Financial by 17.5% during the second quarter. D.A. Davidson & CO. now owns 6,768 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $126,000 after acquiring an additional 1,010 shares during the period. Private Advisor Group LLC increased its stake in Manulife Financial by 7.5% during the second quarter. Private Advisor Group LLC now owns 20,628 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $399,000 after acquiring an additional 1,441 shares during the period. Finally, Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Co. increased its stake in Manulife Financial by 25.7% during the second quarter. Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Co. now owns 10,284 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $193,000 after acquiring an additional 2,103 shares during the period. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 46.51% of the company’s stock.

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About Manulife Financial

Manulife Financial Corporation (MFC) is a holding company of The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company (MLI), which is a life insurance company, and John Hancock Reassurance Company Ltd. (JHRECO), which is a reinsurance company. The Company operates as a financial services company with principal operations in Asia, Canada and the United States.

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