Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of AFLAC (NYSE:AFL) from a sell rating to a hold rating in a research report sent to investors on Thursday morning.

According to Zacks, “Aflac shares have outperformed the industry in a year's time. The company will invest $250 million in different growth benefiting from the easy tax regime. 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. Nevertheless, persistent low interest rates in Japan have put pressure on revenue growth from the region. Also branch conversion cost might drain margins to some extent.”

A number of other analysts have also weighed in on the stock. Wells Fargo & Co restated a market perform rating and set a $90.00 target price (up from $84.00) on shares of AFLAC in a research note on Tuesday, January 9th. ValuEngine raised AFLAC from a buy rating to a strong-buy rating in a report on Sunday, December 31st. B. Riley reaffirmed a neutral rating on shares of AFLAC in a report on Monday, November 6th. Goldman Sachs Group initiated coverage on AFLAC in a report on Wednesday, October 18th. They issued a neutral rating and a $88.00 price target for the company. Finally, Royal Bank of Canada reaffirmed a sell rating and issued a $71.00 price target on shares of AFLAC in a report on Tuesday, October 10th. Four investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, seven have assigned a hold rating, four have issued a buy rating and one has given a strong buy rating to the company’s stock. The company currently has an average rating of Hold and a consensus target price of $80.29.

Shares of AFLAC (NYSE AFL) opened at $84.94 on Thursday. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.24, a quick ratio of 0.07 and a current ratio of 0.07. AFLAC has a one year low of $66.50 and a one year high of $91.73. The firm has a market cap of $33,394.16, a P/E ratio of 12.31, a P/E/G ratio of 2.43 and a beta of 1.02.

AFLAC (NYSE:AFL) last released its earnings results on Wednesday, October 25th. The financial services provider reported $1.70 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.63 by $0.07. AFLAC had a net margin of 12.49% and a return on equity of 12.87%. The firm had revenue of $5.51 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $5.48 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the firm earned $1.74 earnings per share. The business’s quarterly revenue was down 3.7% compared to the same quarter last year. analysts predict that AFLAC will post 6.76 EPS for the current fiscal year.

In other news, COO Masatoshi Koide sold 6,250 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, December 28th. The stock was sold at an average price of $88.00, for a total value of $550,000.00. Following the completion of the sale, the chief operating officer now directly owns 25,037 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $2,203,256. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this hyperlink. Also, insider Audrey B. Tillman sold 310 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, October 26th. The shares were sold at an average price of $83.57, for a total value of $25,906.70. Following the completion of the sale, the insider now directly owns 41,937 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $3,504,675.09. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold 22,657 shares of company stock valued at $1,988,685 over the last ninety days. 3.00% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

Hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of the company. San Francisco Sentry Investment Group CA boosted its holdings in shares of AFLAC by 4,338.7% in the third quarter. San Francisco Sentry Investment Group CA now owns 1,376 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $112,000 after acquiring an additional 1,345 shares during the period. Harfst & Associates Inc. boosted its holdings in shares of AFLAC by 12.0% in the second quarter. Harfst & Associates Inc. now owns 1,994 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $154,000 after acquiring an additional 214 shares during the period. Princeton Portfolio Strategies Group LLC acquired a new stake in shares of AFLAC in the second quarter valued at approximately $200,000. Ifrah Financial Services Inc. acquired a new stake in shares of AFLAC in the third quarter valued at approximately $200,000. Finally, Lowe Brockenbrough & Co. Inc. acquired a new stake in shares of AFLAC in the third quarter valued at approximately $204,000. 65.63% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

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AFLAC Company Profile

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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