Aflac Incorporated (NYSE:AFL) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report released on Friday.

According to Zacks, “Aflac shares have outperformed its industry year to date. Efforts to increase agent productivity, emphasis on sale of third-sector products, pull back on sale of first-sector products, and the introduction of new products like cancer insurance are likely to drive long-term growth. Its strong capital position enables it to buy back shares and increase dividend payouts. However, the company remains exposed to a challenging operating environment, primarily in Japan. Charges related to Japan’s branch conversion and foreign exchange volatility are some headwinds faced by the company.”

AFL has been the topic of a number of other reports. UBS AG reaffirmed an “overweight” rating on shares of Aflac in a research report on Thursday, August 24th. Barclays PLC boosted their target price on Aflac from $71.00 to $73.00 and gave the stock an “equal weight” rating in a research report on Monday, July 3rd. Bank of America Corporation raised Aflac from an “underperform” rating to a “neutral” rating and boosted their target price for the stock from $75.00 to $78.00 in a research report on Tuesday, July 4th. Royal Bank Of Canada reaffirmed a “sell” rating and set a $66.00 target price on shares of Aflac in a research report on Wednesday, July 12th. Finally, BidaskClub lowered Aflac from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research report on Wednesday, July 19th. Four research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, seven have given a hold rating and five have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock presently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $77.32.

Aflac (AFL) traded up 0.5128% during mid-day trading on Friday, hitting $80.9631. The company had a trading volume of 676,872 shares. Aflac has a one year low of $66.50 and a one year high of $83.39. The company’s 50 day moving average price is $80.35 and its 200-day moving average price is $76.04. The company has a market cap of $32.00 billion, a PE ratio of 12.2412 and a beta of 0.97.

Aflac (NYSE:AFL) last announced its earnings results on Thursday, July 27th. The financial services provider reported $1.83 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.63 by $0.20. The company had revenue of $5.43 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $5.48 billion. Aflac had a return on equity of 13.09% and a net margin of 11.98%. Aflac’s revenue for the quarter was down .2% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period in the previous year, the firm earned $1.65 earnings per share. Equities research analysts anticipate that Aflac will post $6.69 EPS for the current fiscal year.

Aflac announced that its board has initiated a stock repurchase program on Tuesday, August 8th that authorizes the company to buyback 40,000,000 shares. This buyback authorization authorizes the financial services provider to buy shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback programs are generally an indication that the company’s board believes its stock is undervalued.

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In other news, insider Teresa L. White sold 11,314 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, June 27th. The stock was sold at an average price of $78.01, for a total transaction of $882,605.14. Following the completion of the sale, the insider now owns 26,847 shares in the company, valued at approximately $2,094,334.47. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is accessible through this hyperlink. Also, Director Karole Lloyd purchased 1,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Monday, June 12th. The shares were bought at an average price of $77.01 per share, with a total value of $77,010.00. Following the purchase, the director now owns 7,253 shares in the company, valued at approximately $558,553.53. The disclosure for this purchase can be found here. In the last quarter, insiders have sold 240,203 shares of company stock valued at $18,612,224. 3.00% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

Institutional investors and hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the company. Atwood & Palmer Inc. boosted its stake in shares of Aflac by 320.5% during the 2nd quarter. Atwood & Palmer Inc. now owns 1,312 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $102,000 after acquiring an additional 1,000 shares in the last quarter. CWM LLC boosted its stake in shares of Aflac by 2.1% during the 2nd quarter. CWM LLC now owns 1,430 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $111,000 after acquiring an additional 30 shares in the last quarter. Harfst & Associates Inc. bought a new stake in shares of Aflac during the 1st quarter worth about $128,000. Capital Analysts LLC bought a new stake in shares of Aflac during the 2nd quarter worth about $131,000. Finally, Washington Trust Bank boosted its stake in shares of Aflac by 0.9% during the 2nd quarter. Washington Trust Bank now owns 1,704 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $132,000 after acquiring an additional 16 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors own 65.66% of the company’s stock.

About Aflac

Aflac Incorporated is a business holding company. The Company is involved in supplemental health and life insurance, which is marketed and administered through its subsidiary, American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus (Aflac). The Company’s insurance business consists of two segments: Aflac Japan and Aflac U.S.

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Analyst Recommendations for Aflac (NYSE:AFL)

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