AFLAC (AFL) Upgraded by Zacks Investment Research to “Buy”

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of AFLAC (NYSE:AFL) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note issued to investors on Tuesday morning, Zacks.com reports. Zacks Investment Research currently has $55.00 price objective on the financial services provider’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Aflac Inc.’s earnings per share of $1.12 beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 6.7% and increased by the same measure, year over year. The company’s results largely indicate strong net investment income and favorable benefit ratios in its Japan segment. Its shares have outperformed the industry in a year's time. Its U.S. segment is likely to continue perform 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.  Also, the stock has witnessed its 2019 earnings estimates move north over the past seven days. However, 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 Japan business is another concern.”

A number of other research analysts also recently issued reports on the stock. JPMorgan Chase & Co. downgraded shares of AFLAC from an overweight rating to a neutral rating and set a $51.00 price objective on the stock. in a research report on Wednesday, January 2nd. ValuEngine raised shares of AFLAC from a strong sell rating to a sell rating in a research report on Wednesday, January 2nd. SunTrust Banks lifted their price objective on shares of AFLAC to $48.00 and gave the stock a hold rating in a research report on Monday, February 4th. Finally, UBS Group cut their price objective on shares of AFLAC from $50.00 to $49.00 and set a neutral rating on the stock in a research report on Tuesday. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, seven have given a hold rating, two have assigned a buy rating and one has given a strong buy rating to the company’s stock. The company has an average rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $49.80.

NYSE AFL opened at $50.49 on Tuesday. The company has a current ratio of 0.05, a quick ratio of 0.06 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.23. The stock has a market cap of $37.64 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 12.14, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 3.42 and a beta of 0.78. AFLAC has a one year low of $41.45 and a one year high of $50.72.

AFLAC (NYSE:AFL) last posted its earnings results on Thursday, April 25th. The financial services provider reported $1.12 EPS for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.05 by $0.07. The business had revenue of $5.66 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $5.46 billion. AFLAC had a net margin of 14.26% and a return on equity of 13.49%. The company’s revenue for the quarter was up 3.5% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter last year, the firm posted $1.05 EPS. On average, equities research analysts expect that AFLAC will post 4.3 EPS for the current year.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, June 3rd. Stockholders of record on Wednesday, May 22nd will be given a $0.27 dividend. This represents a $1.08 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.14%. The ex-dividend date is Tuesday, May 21st. AFLAC’s payout ratio is currently 25.96%.

In related news, insider Teresa L. White sold 12,338 shares of AFLAC stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, February 13th. The shares were sold at an average price of $49.06, for a total value of $605,302.28. Following the completion of the sale, the insider now directly owns 56,343 shares in the company, valued at approximately $2,764,187.58. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, Director Douglas Wayne Johnson sold 3,000 shares of AFLAC stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, March 12th. The stock was sold at an average price of $49.24, for a total transaction of $147,720.00. Following the completion of the sale, the director now owns 33,035 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $1,626,643.40. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last ninety days, insiders sold 89,244 shares of company stock worth $4,363,557. Insiders own 1.30% of the company’s stock.

A number of hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. Stephens Inc. AR boosted its stake in AFLAC by 2.1% in the 1st quarter. Stephens Inc. AR now owns 145,147 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $7,257,000 after purchasing an additional 3,046 shares in the last quarter. Bbva Compass Bancshares Inc. acquired a new stake in AFLAC in the 1st quarter worth approximately $219,000. South Dakota Investment Council boosted its stake in AFLAC by 10.7% in the 1st quarter. South Dakota Investment Council now owns 57,900 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $2,895,000 after purchasing an additional 5,600 shares in the last quarter. California Public Employees Retirement System boosted its stake in AFLAC by 14.8% in the 1st quarter. California Public Employees Retirement System now owns 5,058,702 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $252,935,000 after purchasing an additional 650,506 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Victory Capital Management Inc. boosted its stake in AFLAC by 12.6% in the 1st quarter. Victory Capital Management Inc. now owns 6,235,323 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $311,766,000 after purchasing an additional 696,326 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors own 68.40% of the company’s stock.

AFLAC Company Profile

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.

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Analyst Recommendations for AFLAC (NYSE:AFL)

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