Aflac (AFL) Upgraded to “Buy” at Zacks Investment Research

Aflac (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. The firm presently has a $51.00 target price on the financial services provider’s stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s price objective suggests a potential upside of 11.87% from the stock’s current price.

According to Zacks, “Aflac’s shares have performed better that the industry in a year's time. It will invest $250 million in different growth areas benefiting from an easy tax regime. Ample capital enables it to buy back shares and raise dividend payouts. Efforts to increase agent productivity, emphasis on sale of third-sector products, pull back on sale of first-sector products, and new products bode well for the long term. The U.S segment will remain strong on a number of growth initiatives. Aflac Inc.’s first-quarter 2018 earnings of $1.05 per share surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 8.25% and increased 25% year over year. Results buoyed on favorable pretax margins and a lower effective tax rate as a result of tax reform. Nevertheless, persistently low interest rates in Japan have put pressure on revenue growth from the region.”

Other analysts also recently issued research reports about the company. JPMorgan Chase cut their target price on Aflac to $47.00 and set an “overweight” rating on the stock in a research note on Tuesday, March 27th. Wells Fargo set a $48.00 price objective on Aflac and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a research note on Wednesday, April 25th. Barclays dropped their price objective on Aflac to $45.00 and set an “equal weight” rating on the stock in a research note on Wednesday, March 21st. Credit Suisse Group assumed coverage on Aflac in a research note on Wednesday, April 25th. They issued a “neutral” rating and a $49.00 price objective on the stock. Finally, ValuEngine raised Aflac from a “buy” rating to a “strong-buy” rating in a research note on Friday, February 2nd. Two research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, eleven have assigned a hold rating, three have assigned a buy rating and two have issued a strong buy rating to the company’s stock. Aflac presently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $46.46.

Aflac traded up $0.20, hitting $45.59, during mid-day trading on Monday, Marketbeat reports. 64,625 shares of the company’s stock traded hands, compared to its average volume of 4,366,819. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.22, a current ratio of 0.05 and a quick ratio of 0.05. The company has a market capitalization of $35.14 billion, a P/E ratio of 13.40, a PEG ratio of 1.76 and a beta of 0.94. Aflac has a one year low of $36.77 and a one year high of $46.19.

Aflac (NYSE:AFL) last announced its earnings results on Wednesday, April 25th. The financial services provider reported $1.05 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $0.97 by $0.08. The firm had revenue of $5.46 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $5.48 billion. Aflac had a return on equity of 12.39% and a net margin of 20.61%. The firm’s revenue for the quarter was up 2.9% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the previous year, the business earned $1.47 EPS. research analysts expect that Aflac will post 3.96 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

In related news, insider June P. Howard sold 2,648 shares of Aflac stock in a transaction on Wednesday, February 28th. The stock was sold at an average price of $90.33, for a total value of $239,193.84. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available through this hyperlink. Also, Director Charles B. Knapp sold 10,000 shares of Aflac stock in a transaction on Monday, March 26th. The stock was sold at an average price of $43.72, for a total value of $437,200.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the director now owns 76,582 shares in the company, valued at $3,348,165.04. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders own 1.70% of the company’s stock.

Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of AFL. BlackRock Inc. grew its holdings in shares of Aflac by 105.9% during the first quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 51,061,717 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $2,234,459,000 after buying an additional 26,264,017 shares in the last quarter. Northern Trust Corp grew its holdings in shares of Aflac by 96.3% during the first quarter. Northern Trust Corp now owns 10,631,066 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $465,215,000 after buying an additional 5,215,905 shares in the last quarter. Old Mutual Global Investors UK Ltd. grew its holdings in shares of Aflac by 681.1% during the first quarter. Old Mutual Global Investors UK Ltd. now owns 4,891,075 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $214,033,000 after buying an additional 4,264,932 shares in the last quarter. LSV Asset Management grew its holdings in shares of Aflac by 111.3% during the first quarter. LSV Asset Management now owns 6,070,376 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $265,639,000 after buying an additional 3,196,878 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Dimensional Fund Advisors LP grew its holdings in shares of Aflac by 98.9% during the first quarter. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP now owns 6,240,111 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $273,050,000 after buying an additional 3,103,311 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 66.79% of the company’s stock.

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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