Torchmark Corporation (NYSE:TMK) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research note issued on Thursday.

According to Zacks, “Shares of Torchmark underperformed the Zacks categorized Life Insurance industry year to date. Also, the company did not witness any earnings momentum for 2017, though 2018 estimates moved down in the last 60 days. Higher administrative expenses, pension costs and investments in IT systems will likely be a drag on Torchmark’s earnings in the near term. Nonetheless, Torchmark’s niche market focus, steady capital deployment and strong operating fundamentals should drive long-term growth. The life insurer estimates life and health sales growth in distribution channels. Also, a strong capital position and robust capital management are key positives. Torchmark expects net operating income between $4.63 per share and $4.77 per share in 2017, life underwriting income to increase between 1% and 3% while health underwriting income to stay flat in 2017.”

A number of other equities research analysts have also issued reports on the stock. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods reiterated a “hold” rating and set a $75.00 target price on shares of Torchmark Corporation in a report on Friday, May 26th. ValuEngine lowered shares of Torchmark Corporation from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Tuesday, May 23rd. Finally, BidaskClub upgraded shares of Torchmark Corporation from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a report on Saturday, June 17th. Six analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, six have given a hold rating and one has issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock currently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $67.67.

Shares of Torchmark Corporation (NYSE TMK) traded up 0.35% during trading on Thursday, reaching $77.07. 139,123 shares of the company traded hands. Torchmark Corporation has a 52 week low of $59.25 and a 52 week high of $79.53. The firm’s 50 day moving average price is $75.83 and its 200-day moving average price is $75.78. The company has a market capitalization of $9.02 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 16.75 and a beta of 0.98.

Torchmark Corporation (NYSE:TMK) last released its earnings results on Wednesday, April 19th. The insurance provider reported $1.15 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.14 by $0.01. The company had revenue of $1.02 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $1.01 billion. Torchmark Corporation had a net margin of 14.04% and a return on equity of 11.56%. The firm’s quarterly revenue was up 4.7% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period in the prior year, the business earned $1.10 EPS. Equities analysts anticipate that Torchmark Corporation will post $4.70 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, August 1st. Investors of record on Wednesday, July 5th will be given a $0.15 dividend. This represents a $0.60 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 0.78%. The ex-dividend date is Friday, June 30th. Torchmark Corporation’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is 13.02%.

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In related news, insider Domenico Bertini sold 4,500 shares of the stock in a transaction on Thursday, April 27th. The shares were sold at an average price of $77.28, for a total value of $347,760.00. Following the transaction, the insider now directly owns 4,500 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $347,760. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this link. Also, Director Lloyd W. Newton bought 2,500 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, May 30th. The stock was bought at an average cost of $75.28 per share, for a total transaction of $188,200.00. The disclosure for this purchase can be found here. Insiders sold a total of 72,750 shares of company stock worth $5,555,033 over the last ninety days. Insiders own 3.79% of the company’s stock.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the stock. Vanguard Group Inc. increased its position in shares of Torchmark Corporation by 4.0% in the first quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 11,918,414 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $918,194,000 after buying an additional 458,913 shares during the last quarter. BlackRock Inc. increased its position in shares of Torchmark Corporation by 2,764.7% in the first quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 7,478,138 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $576,118,000 after buying an additional 7,217,094 shares during the last quarter. State Street Corp increased its position in shares of Torchmark Corporation by 2.6% in the first quarter. State Street Corp now owns 5,852,059 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $450,848,000 after buying an additional 150,546 shares during the last quarter. Caisse DE Depot ET Placement DU Quebec increased its position in shares of Torchmark Corporation by 1.2% in the first quarter. Caisse DE Depot ET Placement DU Quebec now owns 2,023,143 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $156,033,000 after buying an additional 23,100 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. increased its position in shares of Torchmark Corporation by 11.9% in the first quarter. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. now owns 1,196,767 shares of the insurance provider’s stock valued at $92,199,000 after buying an additional 127,185 shares during the last quarter. 74.82% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

About Torchmark Corporation

Torchmark Corporation (Torchmark) is an insurance holding company. The Company, through its subsidiaries, provides a range of life and health insurance products and annuities to a base of customers. The Company’s segments include life insurance, health insurance, annuities and investment. The life insurance segment includes traditional and interest-sensitive whole life insurance as well as term life insurance.

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