Manulife Financial Corp (NYSE: MFC) and CNO Financial Group (NYSE:CNO) are both mid-cap finance companies, but which is the superior investment? We will compare the two businesses based on the strength of their institutional ownership, analyst recommendations, profitability, valuation, risk, earnings and dividends.

Volatility & Risk

Manulife Financial Corp has a beta of 1.32, suggesting that its share price is 32% more volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, CNO Financial Group has a beta of 1.21, suggesting that its share price is 21% more volatile than the S&P 500.

Institutional and Insider Ownership

46.1% of Manulife Financial Corp shares are held by institutional investors. Comparatively, 96.0% of CNO Financial Group shares are held by institutional investors. 2.0% of CNO Financial Group shares are held by company insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that large money managers, hedge funds and endowments believe a stock is poised for long-term growth.

Profitability

This table compares Manulife Financial Corp and CNO Financial Group’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Manulife Financial Corp N/A 11.55% 0.64%
CNO Financial Group 11.41% 5.88% 0.85%

Dividends

Manulife Financial Corp pays an annual dividend of $0.66 per share and has a dividend yield of 3.1%. CNO Financial Group pays an annual dividend of C$0.36 per share and has a dividend yield of 1.5%. Manulife Financial Corp pays out 47.1% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. CNO Financial Group pays out 13.0% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. Both companies have healthy payout ratios and should be able to cover their dividend payments with earnings for the next several years. Manulife Financial Corp has increased its dividend for 3 consecutive years and CNO Financial Group has increased its dividend for 4 consecutive years.

Earnings and Valuation

This table compares Manulife Financial Corp and CNO Financial Group’s gross revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio NetIncome Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Manulife Financial Corp $40.27 billion 1.04 $2.26 billion $1.40 15.16
CNO Financial Group $3.99 billion 0.99 $358.20 million C$2.77 8.48

Manulife Financial Corp has higher revenue and earnings than CNO Financial Group. CNO Financial Group is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than Manulife Financial Corp, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Analyst Ratings

This is a breakdown of recent ratings and price targets for Manulife Financial Corp and CNO Financial Group, as reported by MarketBeat.com.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Manulife Financial Corp 0 1 1 0 2.50
CNO Financial Group 1 6 2 0 2.11

Manulife Financial Corp presently has a consensus target price of $27.00, indicating a potential upside of 27.24%. CNO Financial Group has a consensus target price of C$21.71, indicating a potential downside of 7.56%. Given Manulife Financial Corp’s stronger consensus rating and higher possible upside, equities analysts clearly believe Manulife Financial Corp is more favorable than CNO Financial Group.

Summary

CNO Financial Group beats Manulife Financial Corp on 9 of the 17 factors compared between the two stocks.

About Manulife Financial Corp

Manulife Financial Corporation (MFC) is a holding company of The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company (MLI), which is a life insurance company, and John Hancock Reassurance Company Ltd. (JHRECO), which is a reinsurance company. The Company operates as a financial services company with principal operations in Asia, Canada and the United States. The Company’s segments include Asia Division, Canadian Division, U.S. Division, and the Corporate and Other. The Company operates as Manulife in Canada and Asia and primarily as John Hancock in the United States. The product and service offerings under its Asia, Canadian and U.S. Divisions include Protection, Wealth and Asset Management, and Other Wealth. The Corporate and Other segment includes external asset management business, Property and Casualty (P&C) Reinsurance Business, and run-off reinsurance operations, including variable annuities, and accident and health.

About CNO Financial Group

CNO Financial Group, Inc. is a holding company for a group of insurance companies operating throughout the United States that develops, markets and administers health insurance, annuity, individual life insurance and other insurance products. The Company’s segments include Bankers Life, Washington National and Colonial Penn. It sells health insurance, annuity, individual life insurance and other insurance products through three primary distribution channels: career agents, independent producers and direct marketing. The Company offers products in various categories, including health, annuities and life insurance. The health products include Medicare supplement, long-term care, prescription drug plan and Medicare advantage, supplemental health products and other health products. The annuities products include fixed index annuities and other fixed interest annuities. The life insurance products include interest-sensitive life products and traditional life products.

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