AFLAC (AFL) Lowered to Sell at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of AFLAC (NYSE:AFL) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research report report 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.”

Several other equities research analysts also recently commented on the company. JPMorgan Chase & Co. downgraded AFLAC from an overweight rating to a neutral rating and set a $51.00 target price for the company. in a report on Wednesday, January 2nd. SunTrust Banks upped their target price on AFLAC to $48.00 and gave the company a hold rating in a report on Monday, February 4th. Finally, ValuEngine raised AFLAC from a sell rating to a hold rating in a report on Thursday, February 7th. Two equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, seven have assigned a hold rating and one has assigned a buy rating to the stock. AFLAC currently has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus target price of $48.67.

Shares of NYSE AFL opened at $48.92 on Thursday. AFLAC has a 12 month low of $41.45 and a 12 month high of $50.66. The firm has a market cap of $36.63 billion, a PE ratio of 11.73, a P/E/G ratio of 3.37 and a beta of 0.79. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.25, a current ratio of 0.06 and a quick ratio of 0.06.

AFLAC (NYSE:AFL) last announced its earnings results on Thursday, January 31st. The financial services provider reported $1.02 EPS for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $0.94 by $0.08. AFLAC had a return on equity of 13.62% and a net margin of 13.42%. The business had revenue of $5.48 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $5.47 billion. On average, research analysts anticipate that AFLAC will post 4.23 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

In related news, insider Masatoshi Koide sold 29,008 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, March 26th. The stock was sold at an average price of $49.75, for a total transaction of $1,443,148.00. Following the transaction, the insider now directly owns 64,512 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $3,209,472. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through this link. Also, Director Douglas Wayne Johnson sold 3,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, March 12th. The shares were sold at an average price of $49.24, for a total value of $147,720.00. Following the transaction, the director now directly owns 33,035 shares in the company, valued at $1,626,643.40. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold 89,244 shares of company stock worth $4,363,557 over the last three months. 1.30% of the stock is owned by insiders.

A number of large investors have recently bought and sold shares of AFL. Norges Bank acquired a new position in AFLAC during the fourth quarter valued at $260,062,000. Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund raised its position in AFLAC by 2,138.4% during the fourth quarter. Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund now owns 3,815,741 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $84,000 after buying an additional 3,645,273 shares during the period. Boston Partners raised its position in AFLAC by 51.4% during the fourth quarter. Boston Partners now owns 4,914,986 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $223,926,000 after buying an additional 1,668,025 shares during the period. BlackRock Inc. raised its position in AFLAC by 3.1% during 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 buying an additional 1,557,905 shares during the period. Finally, California Public Employees Retirement System raised its position in AFLAC by 37.2% during the fourth quarter. California Public Employees Retirement System now owns 4,408,196 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $200,837,000 after buying an additional 1,196,113 shares during the period. 68.46% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

About AFLAC

Aflac Incorporated, through its subsidiaries, 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.

Recommended Story: Straddles

Get a free copy of the Zacks research report on AFLAC (AFL)

For more information about research offerings from Zacks Investment Research, visit Zacks.com

Analyst Recommendations for AFLAC (NYSE:AFL)

Receive News & Ratings for AFLAC Daily - Enter your email address below to receive a concise daily summary of the latest news and analysts' ratings for AFLAC and related companies with MarketBeat.com's FREE daily email newsletter.