Torchmark (NYSE:TMK) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a report released on Tuesday, Zacks.com reports. The brokerage currently has a $99.00 price objective on the insurance provider’s stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s price objective indicates a potential upside of 13.66% from the stock’s current price.

According to Zacks, “Torchmark’s first-quarter net operating income per share beat estimates on higher Life and Health premiums. Shares of Torchmark have outperformed the industry in a year. Niche market focus, steady capital deployment and strong operating fundamentals should drive long-term growth. It estimates life and health sales growth in distribution channels. Also, a strong capital position and capital management are positives. The company estimates free cash flow in the range of $365-$375 million and net operating income between $6.61 and $6.75 per share in 2019. Life underwriting income is expected to grow around 4-6% (up from 3-5%) and health underwriting income is likely to increase 3-5% (up from 2-4%). However, higher administrative expense remains a concern. It is estimated to increase 5-6% in 2019. Pension costs, investments in IT systems and high debt level along with lower interest coverage ratio are likely to be a drag on earnings.”

Other equities analysts also recently issued reports about the stock. ValuEngine upgraded shares of Torchmark from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Wednesday, January 2nd. JPMorgan Chase & Co. upgraded shares of Torchmark from a “neutral” rating to an “overweight” rating in a report on Wednesday, January 2nd. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, two have given a hold rating and two have given a buy rating to the company. The stock currently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $86.00.

Torchmark stock opened at $87.10 on Tuesday. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.25, a quick ratio of 0.06 and a current ratio of 0.06. Torchmark has a fifty-two week low of $69.68 and a fifty-two week high of $91.28. The company has a market cap of $9.79 billion, a P/E ratio of 14.21, a PEG ratio of 1.76 and a beta of 1.00.

Torchmark (NYSE:TMK) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, April 17th. The insurance provider reported $1.64 EPS for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.59 by $0.05. The business had revenue of $1.12 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $1.11 billion. Torchmark had a net margin of 16.37% and a return on equity of 13.06%. The firm’s revenue for the quarter was up 4.6% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the previous year, the firm posted $1.47 earnings per share. Analysts expect that Torchmark will post 6.7 EPS for the current fiscal year.

In related news, Chairman Gary L. Coleman sold 13,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Friday, February 15th. The shares were sold at an average price of $83.10, for a total value of $1,080,300.00. Following the transaction, the chairman now directly owns 662,547 shares in the company, valued at $55,057,655.70. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this hyperlink. Also, insider Kenneth J. Matson sold 8,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Thursday, March 28th. The shares were sold at an average price of $81.16, for a total transaction of $649,280.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the insider now owns 25,434 shares in the company, valued at $2,064,223.44. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold 92,010 shares of company stock worth $7,612,561 over the last 90 days. 3.64% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

Several hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in TMK. Aull & Monroe Investment Management Corp bought a new stake in Torchmark during the first quarter worth about $216,000. Cohen Klingenstein LLC bought a new stake in Torchmark during the first quarter worth about $5,901,000. Pennsylvania Trust Co lifted its position in Torchmark by 731.7% during the first quarter. Pennsylvania Trust Co now owns 66,012 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $6,836,000 after purchasing an additional 58,075 shares during the period. Welch Group LLC lifted its position in Torchmark by 2.3% during the first quarter. Welch Group LLC now owns 37,323 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $3,059,000 after purchasing an additional 845 shares during the period. Finally, Mercer Global Advisors Inc. ADV bought a new stake in Torchmark during the first quarter worth about $402,000. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 76.71% of the company’s stock.

Torchmark Company Profile

Torchmark Corporation, through its subsidiaries, provides various life and health insurance products, and annuities in the United States, Canada, and New Zealand. It operates through four segments: Life Insurance, Health Insurance, Annuity, and Investment. The company offers traditional and interest-sensitive whole life insurance, as well as term life insurance.

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