Zacks Investment Research cut shares of Aflac Incorporated (NYSE:AFL) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a report released on Monday.
According to Zacks, “Aflac shares have outperformed its industry year to date. Efforts to increase agent productivity, emphasis on sale of third-sector products, pull back on sale of first-sector products, and the introduction of new products are likely to drive long-term growth. Its strong capital position enables it to buy back shares and increase dividend payouts. Its U.S segment continues to perform strongly and will continue as company has undertaken a number of growth initiatives in this business. A favorable earnings guidance against the back drop of continued challenges in its Japan business instills our confidence in the company. Also, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2017 and 2018 moved up 2.3% and 0.7%, respectively, in the last 60 days. However, the company remains exposed to a challenging operating environment, primarily in Japan. Charges related to Japan’s branch conversion and foreign exchange volatility are some headwinds faced by the company.”
Several other equities analysts have also commented on AFL. ValuEngine raised shares of Aflac from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report on Tuesday, August 1st. BidaskClub lowered shares of Aflac from a sell rating to a strong sell rating in a research report on Tuesday, August 1st. Barclays PLC upped their price target on shares of Aflac from $73.00 to $79.00 and gave the stock an equal weight rating in a research report on Friday, August 11th. UBS AG reaffirmed an overweight rating on shares of Aflac in a research report on Thursday, August 24th. Finally, Bank of America Corporation raised shares of Aflac from an underperform rating to a neutral rating and upped their price target for the stock from $75.00 to $78.00 in a research report on Tuesday, July 4th. Four equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, six have given a hold rating and six have given a buy rating to the stock. The company has a consensus rating of Hold and an average target price of $77.41.
Aflac (NYSE AFL) opened at 83.63 on Monday. Aflac has a 52-week low of $66.50 and a 52-week high of $83.94. The stock has a market cap of $33.05 billion, a PE ratio of 12.64 and a beta of 0.97. The company’s 50 day moving average is $81.36 and its 200-day moving average is $76.68.
Aflac (NYSE:AFL) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, July 27th. The financial services provider reported $1.83 EPS for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $1.63 by $0.20. Aflac had a net margin of 11.98% and a return on equity of 13.09%. The firm had revenue of $5.43 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $5.48 billion. During the same quarter in the prior year, the business posted $1.65 earnings per share. Aflac’s revenue for the quarter was down .2% compared to the same quarter last year. On average, equities analysts anticipate that Aflac will post $6.69 earnings per share for the current year.
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The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, September 1st. Stockholders of record on Wednesday, August 23rd were paid a $0.43 dividend. The ex-dividend date was Monday, August 21st. This represents a $1.72 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.05%. Aflac’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 25.94%.
Aflac declared that its Board of Directors has authorized a stock repurchase plan on Tuesday, August 8th that permits the company to repurchase 40,000,000 shares. This repurchase authorization permits the financial services provider to repurchase shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock repurchase plans are typically a sign that the company’s management believes its shares are undervalued.
In other news, insider Teresa L. White sold 11,314 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, June 27th. The shares were sold at an average price of $78.01, for a total value of $882,605.14. Following the completion of the transaction, the insider now directly owns 26,847 shares in the company, valued at $2,094,334.47. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through the SEC website. Also, Director Douglas Wayne Johnson sold 1,500 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, September 19th. The shares were sold at an average price of $83.58, for a total transaction of $125,370.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the director now owns 13,733 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $1,147,804.14. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold 16,314 shares of company stock valued at $1,291,685 over the last 90 days. Insiders own 3.00% of the company’s stock.
Several hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in the company. Bollard Group LLC boosted its stake in shares of Aflac by 0.6% in the second quarter. Bollard Group LLC now owns 2,339 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $182,000 after purchasing an additional 14 shares during the period. Washington Trust Bank boosted its stake in shares of Aflac by 0.9% in the second quarter. Washington Trust Bank now owns 1,704 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $132,000 after purchasing an additional 16 shares during the period. Balentine LLC boosted its stake in shares of Aflac by 0.3% in the second quarter. Balentine LLC now owns 6,649 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $516,000 after purchasing an additional 18 shares during the period. Whittier Trust Co. of Nevada Inc. boosted its stake in shares of Aflac by 0.4% in the second quarter. Whittier Trust Co. of Nevada Inc. now owns 7,259 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $564,000 after purchasing an additional 27 shares during the period. Finally, CWM LLC boosted its stake in shares of Aflac by 2.1% in the second quarter. CWM LLC now owns 1,430 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $111,000 after purchasing an additional 30 shares during the period. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 65.63% of the company’s stock.
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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