Unum Group (NYSE:UNM) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a report released on Thursday. The brokerage currently has a $56.00 target price on the financial services provider’s stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s price target would indicate a potential upside of 13.13% from the company’s current price.

According to Zacks, “Unum Group’s premiums continue to increase, fueled by solid persistency levels in core business lines and sturdy volume of sales, along with solid benefits experience. Acquisitions have provided an additional support. Starmount Life Insurance Company buyout gave access to growth opportunities in the dental market, which is in sync with its strategy to focus more on the employee benefits business. A sustained favorable performance drives solid capital generation and strong financial flexibility aiding active capital deployment. Unum expects 2017 operating earnings to grow 5–8% over the 2016 level. However, exposure to low interest rate environment remains the key headwind affecting the Unum U.K. results. Shares of Unum Group have the underperformed industry year to date. With respect to quarterly results, Unum Group’s second-quarter 2017 earnings outpaced our expectations and also improved year over year.”

A number of other equities analysts have also recently issued reports on UNM. Deutsche Bank AG lifted their target price on Unum Group from $46.00 to $48.00 and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a report on Wednesday, April 19th. Royal Bank Of Canada restated a “hold” rating and issued a $50.00 target price on shares of Unum Group in a report on Friday, April 28th. BidaskClub upgraded Unum Group from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Wednesday, June 14th. Wells Fargo & Company restated a “hold” rating on shares of Unum Group in a report on Sunday, July 30th. Finally, Barclays PLC lifted their target price on Unum Group from $56.00 to $57.00 and gave the stock an “overweight” rating in a report on Friday, August 11th. Two equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, six have given a hold rating and three have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock currently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $46.78.

Shares of Unum Group (NYSE UNM) traded up 0.02% on Thursday, reaching $49.51. The company had a trading volume of 79,368 shares. Unum Group has a 12 month low of $33.82 and a 12 month high of $51.43. The stock has a 50 day moving average price of $48.64 and a 200-day moving average price of $47.17. The company has a market capitalization of $11.17 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 11.92 and a beta of 1.56.

Unum Group (NYSE:UNM) last issued its earnings results on Thursday, July 27th. The financial services provider reported $1.05 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.01 by $0.04. The business had revenue of $2.81 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $2.80 billion. Unum Group had a return on equity of 10.23% and a net margin of 8.57%. During the same period in the previous year, the firm posted $1.00 EPS. Analysts forecast that Unum Group will post $4.17 EPS for the current fiscal year.

Unum Group announced that its board has initiated a share repurchase plan on Thursday, May 25th that permits the company to buyback $750.00 million in shares. This buyback authorization permits the financial services provider to reacquire up to 7.2% of its shares through open market purchases. Shares buyback plans are typically an indication that the company’s management believes its shares are undervalued.

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In related news, EVP Breege A. Farrell sold 15,000 shares of Unum Group stock in a transaction on Friday, June 23rd. The stock was sold at an average price of $45.47, for a total transaction of $682,050.00. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through this hyperlink. Also, Director Pamela H. Godwin sold 2,500 shares of Unum Group stock in a transaction on Monday, August 7th. The shares were sold at an average price of $50.71, for a total value of $126,775.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last three months, insiders have sold 19,960 shares of company stock valued at $932,391. Insiders own 0.53% of the company’s stock.

A number of hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in UNM. Vanguard Group Inc. boosted its stake in Unum Group by 1.4% in the second quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 24,407,058 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $1,138,102,000 after buying an additional 337,531 shares during the last quarter. BlackRock Inc. boosted its stake in Unum Group by 2,690.7% in the first quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 16,788,648 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $787,221,000 after buying an additional 16,187,062 shares during the last quarter. State Street Corp boosted its stake in Unum Group by 5.0% in the first quarter. State Street Corp now owns 12,119,332 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $568,278,000 after buying an additional 573,818 shares during the last quarter. Boston Partners boosted its stake in Unum Group by 16.6% in the first quarter. Boston Partners now owns 9,564,880 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $448,498,000 after buying an additional 1,358,289 shares during the last quarter. Finally, JPMorgan Chase & Co. boosted its stake in Unum Group by 6.3% in the second quarter. JPMorgan Chase & Co. now owns 7,036,701 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $328,121,000 after buying an additional 415,909 shares during the last quarter. 92.84% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

About Unum Group

Unum Group is a provider of financial protection benefits in the United States and the United Kingdom. The Company’s products include disability, life, accident, critical illness, dental and vision, and other related services. Its segments include Unum US, Unum UK, Colonial Life, Closed Block and Corporate.

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