Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Aflac (NYSE:AFL) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note released on Tuesday. The firm currently has $51.00 price objective on the financial services provider’s stock.

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.”

A number of other research analysts have also commented on AFL. Janney Montgomery Scott reaffirmed a buy rating on shares of Aflac in a report on Tuesday, January 16th. Citigroup raised Aflac to a strong-buy rating and upped their price objective for the company from $44.00 to $50.00 in a report on Monday, January 22nd. Raymond James raised Aflac from an outperform rating to a strong-buy rating and upped their price objective for the company from $44.00 to $50.00 in a report on Monday, January 22nd. ValuEngine raised Aflac from a buy rating to a strong-buy rating in a report on Friday, February 2nd. Finally, UBS initiated coverage on Aflac in a report on Friday, March 2nd. They issued a neutral rating and a $49.00 price objective on the stock. Two research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, eleven have assigned a hold rating, three have given a buy rating and two have given a strong buy rating to the company’s stock. Aflac presently has a consensus rating of Hold and an average target price of $46.46.

AFL opened at $45.53 on Tuesday. The company has a current ratio of 0.05, a quick ratio of 0.05 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.22. Aflac has a 1-year low of $44.95 and a 1-year high of $45.35. The firm has a market capitalization of $35.15 billion, a P/E ratio of 12.56, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.76 and a beta of 0.94.

Aflac (NYSE:AFL) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, April 25th. The financial services provider reported $1.05 EPS for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.97 by $0.08. Aflac had a return on equity of 12.39% and a net margin of 20.61%. The firm had revenue of $5.46 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $5.48 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the firm posted $1.47 EPS. The company’s revenue for the quarter was up 2.9% on a year-over-year basis. equities analysts expect that Aflac will post 3.95 earnings per share for the current year.

The business also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, June 1st. Stockholders of record on Wednesday, May 23rd will be issued a dividend of $0.26 per share. This represents a $1.04 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.28%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Tuesday, May 22nd. Aflac’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is currently 30.59%.

In related news, Director Joseph L. Moskowitz bought 550 shares of Aflac stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, February 20th. The shares were bought at an average cost of $89.13 per share, with a total value of $49,021.50. Following the acquisition, the director now owns 9,263 shares in the company, valued at approximately $825,611.19. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at the SEC website. Also, Director Charles B. Knapp sold 10,000 shares of the 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 sale, the director now directly owns 76,582 shares in the company, valued at $3,348,165.04. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Corporate insiders own 3.00% of the company’s stock.

Several institutional investors and hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in AFL. SeaCrest Wealth Management LLC acquired a new stake in shares of Aflac during the 4th quarter worth $101,000. Omnia Family Wealth LLC grew its holdings in shares of Aflac by 261.9% during the 4th quarter. Omnia Family Wealth LLC now owns 1,245 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $109,000 after purchasing an additional 901 shares in the last quarter. Oakworth Capital Inc. grew its holdings in shares of Aflac by 100.0% during the 1st quarter. Oakworth Capital Inc. now owns 2,430 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $111,000 after purchasing an additional 1,215 shares in the last quarter. Smithfield Trust Co. boosted its stake in Aflac by 100.0% in the first quarter. Smithfield Trust Co. now owns 2,520 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $111,000 after buying an additional 1,260 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Advisors Preferred LLC acquired a new stake in Aflac in the fourth quarter valued at about $121,000. 41.95% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

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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Analyst Recommendations for Aflac (NYSE:AFL)

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