AFLAC (AFL) Rating Lowered to Sell at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research cut shares of AFLAC (NYSE:AFL) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research note published on Thursday, Zacks.com reports.

According to Zacks, “Aflac Inc.’s shares have underperformed its industry, quarter to date. It has witnessed its 2019 and 2020 earnings estimates move south over the past 30 days. Its increasing expenses are weighing on margins. Given its investments to speed up development, sales, administration and customer experience related to its products, we expect expenses to rise ahead. Pressure on investment income is another headwind. Nevertheless, it is poised to grow from recovery in its Japan segment, led by a change in business mix and introduction of new products. Aflac’s U.S. segment is likely to continue performing strongly in the quarters ahead. A solid balance sheet with disciplined capital management is another positive. Favorable earnings guidance for 2019 instills investors' confidence in the company.”

AFL has been the subject of a number of other research reports. ValuEngine lowered shares of AFLAC from a hold rating to a sell rating in a report on Friday, March 1st. SunTrust Banks upped their price objective on shares of AFLAC to $48.00 and gave the company a hold rating in a report on Monday, February 4th. Finally, JPMorgan Chase & Co. lowered shares of AFLAC from an overweight rating to a neutral rating and set a $51.00 price objective for the company. in a report on Wednesday, January 2nd. Two analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, seven have given a hold rating and one has issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. AFLAC has a consensus rating of Hold and an average target price of $48.67.

Shares of AFL traded down $0.12 during mid-day trading on Thursday, reaching $48.92. The stock had a trading volume of 4,271,915 shares, compared to its average volume of 3,382,477. The company has a current ratio of 0.06, a quick ratio of 0.06 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.25. AFLAC has a 52-week low of $41.45 and a 52-week high of $50.66. The firm has a market capitalization of $36.63 billion, a P/E ratio of 11.76, a P/E/G ratio of 3.39 and a beta of 0.79.

AFLAC (NYSE:AFL) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, January 31st. The financial services provider reported $1.02 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.94 by $0.08. AFLAC had a net margin of 13.42% and a return on equity of 13.62%. The firm had revenue of $5.48 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $5.47 billion. Equities research analysts predict that AFLAC will post 4.22 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

In other news, insider Masatoshi Koide sold 29,008 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, March 26th. The shares were sold at an average price of $49.75, for a total transaction of $1,443,148.00. Following the sale, the insider now owns 64,512 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $3,209,472. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, Director Karole Lloyd purchased 2,000 shares of AFLAC stock in a transaction dated Friday, March 22nd. The shares were acquired at an average cost of $49.83 per share, for a total transaction of $99,660.00. Following the transaction, the director now directly owns 22,160 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $1,104,232.80. The disclosure for this purchase can be found here. Insiders sold 89,244 shares of company stock worth $4,363,557 in the last ninety days. 1.30% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

Several institutional investors and hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of the company. Vanguard Group Inc. lifted its position in shares of AFLAC by 0.8% during the third quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 66,738,143 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $3,141,364,000 after purchasing an additional 505,341 shares in the last quarter. Vanguard Group Inc raised its holdings in AFLAC by 0.8% in the third quarter. Vanguard Group Inc now owns 66,738,143 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $3,141,364,000 after acquiring an additional 505,341 shares in the last quarter. BlackRock Inc. raised its holdings in AFLAC by 3.1% in the fourth quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 51,647,878 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $2,353,074,000 after acquiring an additional 1,557,905 shares in the last quarter. Geode Capital Management LLC raised its holdings in AFLAC by 7.5% in the fourth quarter. Geode Capital Management LLC now owns 10,367,524 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $471,555,000 after acquiring an additional 724,613 shares in the last quarter. Finally, LSV Asset Management raised its holdings in AFLAC by 0.4% in the fourth quarter. LSV Asset Management now owns 6,110,739 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $278,405,000 after acquiring an additional 21,722 shares in the last quarter. 68.46% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

AFLAC Company Profile

Aflac Incorporated, through its subsidiary, American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus, provides voluntary supplemental health and life insurance products. It operates through two segments, Aflac Japan and Aflac U.S. The Aflac Japan segment offers voluntary supplemental insurance products, including cancer plans, general medical indemnity plans, medical/sickness riders, care plans, living benefit life plans, ordinary life insurance plans, and annuities in Japan.

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