Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of Lincoln National (NYSE:LNC) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research note published on Friday morning.

According to Zacks, “Lincoln National is poised to grow on the back of its increasing top line led by strong performance of the Life Insurance Segment. The company’s Group Protection segment, which was challenged earlier, has been recovering. The acquisition of Liberty's group benefits business will further aid Group Benefits segment. Lincoln National has also streamlined its business by axing unprofitable and non-core lines. The company’s operational efficiency and disciplined capital management are noteworthy. However, increased expense driven by investment in technology will dent margins for the next several quarters. High leverage is another cause for concern. Shares of the company have lost value in a year's time, but have fared better than the industry. The stock has seen the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2018 and 2019 earnings being revised upward over the last 30 days.”

A number of other equities analysts have also recently issued reports on LNC. Credit Suisse Group dropped their price objective on shares of Lincoln National from $74.00 to $68.00 and set a neutral rating for the company in a research note on Friday, August 17th. ValuEngine upgraded shares of Lincoln National from a strong sell rating to a sell rating in a research note on Wednesday, August 22nd. Goldman Sachs Group upgraded shares of Lincoln National from a sell rating to a neutral rating and increased their price objective for the company from $69.00 to $70.00 in a research note on Monday, September 10th. UBS Group increased their price objective on shares of Lincoln National from $73.00 to $74.00 and gave the company a neutral rating in a research note on Monday, October 8th. Finally, Bank of America dropped their price objective on shares of Lincoln National from $79.00 to $75.00 and set a buy rating for the company in a research note on Friday, November 2nd. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, seven have assigned a hold rating and six have assigned a buy rating to the stock. The company currently has an average rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $76.69.

Shares of LNC stock traded down $1.30 during mid-day trading on Friday, reaching $56.40. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 2,231,244 shares, compared to its average volume of 1,647,982. Lincoln National has a 1-year low of $55.83 and a 1-year high of $86.68. The stock has a market cap of $12.32 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 7.24 and a beta of 1.87. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.39, a quick ratio of 0.19 and a current ratio of 0.19.

Lincoln National (NYSE:LNC) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, November 1st. The financial services provider reported $2.34 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $2.17 by $0.17. Lincoln National had a net margin of 13.14% and a return on equity of 11.61%. The company had revenue of $4.26 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $4.25 billion. During the same quarter in the prior year, the company posted $1.87 EPS. The business’s revenue was up 21.4% on a year-over-year basis. On average, sell-side analysts predict that Lincoln National will post 8.56 earnings per share for the current year.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, February 1st. Investors of record on Thursday, January 10th will be given a dividend of $0.37 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Wednesday, January 9th. This represents a $1.48 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.62%. This is a boost from Lincoln National’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.33. Lincoln National’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is 16.94%.

In related news, EVP Jamie Ohl sold 2,152 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Thursday, December 6th. The shares were sold at an average price of $58.00, for a total transaction of $124,816.00. Following the completion of the sale, the executive vice president now owns 12,732 shares in the company, valued at approximately $738,456. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at the SEC website. Company insiders own 1.12% of the company’s stock.

Institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. FNY Investment Advisers LLC acquired a new stake in shares of Lincoln National during the 3rd quarter worth about $135,000. Mark Sheptoff Financial Planning LLC acquired a new stake in Lincoln National in the 2nd quarter valued at about $128,000. Twin Tree Management LP acquired a new stake in Lincoln National in the 3rd quarter valued at about $151,000. Migdal Insurance & Financial Holdings Ltd. increased its position in Lincoln National by 82.5% in the 3rd quarter. Migdal Insurance & Financial Holdings Ltd. now owns 2,318 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $157,000 after acquiring an additional 1,048 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Stratos Wealth Partners LTD. acquired a new stake in Lincoln National in the 3rd quarter valued at about $167,000. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 80.85% of the company’s stock.

About Lincoln National

Lincoln National Corporation, through its subsidiaries, operates multiple insurance and retirement businesses in the United States. It operates through four segments: Annuities, Retirement Plan Services, Life Insurance, and Group Protection. The company sells a range of wealth protection, accumulation, and retirement income products and solutions.

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