Aflac Incorporated (NYSE:AFL) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a note issued to investors on Friday. The brokerage currently has a $92.00 price objective on the financial services provider’s stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s target price points to a potential upside of 12.07% from the stock’s previous close.

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 are likely to drive long-term growth. Its strong capital position enables it to buy back shares and increase dividend payouts. Its U.S segment continues to perform strongly and will continue as company has undertaken a number of growth initiatives in this business. A favorable earnings guidance against the back drop of continued challenges in its Japan business instills our confidence in the company. Also, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2017 and 2018 moved up 2.3% and 0.7%, respectively, in the last 60 days.”

A number of other analysts have also weighed in on the stock. Bank of America Corporation lowered shares of Aflac from a “neutral” rating to an “underperform” rating in a report on Friday, September 8th. UBS AG restated an “overweight” rating on shares of Aflac in a report on Thursday, August 24th. Barclays PLC raised their price objective on shares of Aflac from $73.00 to $79.00 and gave the stock an “equal weight” rating in a report on Friday, August 11th. ValuEngine upgraded shares of Aflac from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a report on Tuesday, August 1st. Finally, BidaskClub lowered shares of Aflac from a “sell” rating to a “strong sell” rating in a report on Tuesday, August 1st. Four equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, six have issued a hold rating and six have given a buy rating to the company. Aflac currently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $77.23.

Aflac (NYSE AFL) opened at 82.50 on Friday. Aflac has a 52 week low of $66.50 and a 52 week high of $83.39. The firm has a market capitalization of $32.61 billion, a P/E ratio of 12.47 and a beta of 0.97. The stock has a 50 day moving average price of $80.98 and a 200-day moving average price of $76.39.

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

Aflac announced that its Board of Directors has authorized a stock buyback plan on Tuesday, August 8th that permits the company to buyback 40,000,000 shares. This buyback authorization permits the financial services provider to reacquire shares of its stock through open market purchases. Shares buyback plans are usually a sign that the company’s leadership believes its shares are undervalued.

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In other Aflac news, President Kriss Cloninger III sold 3,500 shares of Aflac stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, August 4th. The shares were sold at an average price of $81.06, for a total value of $283,710.00. Following the completion of the sale, the president now owns 253,196 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $20,524,067.76. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available at the SEC website. Also, insider Teresa L. White sold 11,314 shares of Aflac stock in a transaction that occurred on 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 directly owns 26,847 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $2,094,334.47. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 3.00% of the stock is owned by company insiders.

A number of large investors have recently bought and sold shares of the business. Bollard Group LLC grew its position in shares of Aflac by 0.6% during the 2nd quarter. Bollard Group LLC now owns 2,339 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $182,000 after acquiring an additional 14 shares during the period. Washington Trust Bank grew its position 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 valued at $132,000 after acquiring an additional 16 shares during the period. Balentine LLC grew its position in shares of Aflac by 0.3% during the 2nd quarter. Balentine LLC now owns 6,649 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $516,000 after acquiring an additional 18 shares during the period. Whittier Trust Co. of Nevada Inc. grew its position in shares of Aflac by 0.4% during the 2nd quarter. Whittier Trust Co. of Nevada Inc. now owns 7,259 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $564,000 after acquiring an additional 27 shares during the period. Finally, CWM LLC grew its position 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 valued at $111,000 after acquiring an additional 30 shares during the period. 65.66% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

Aflac Company Profile

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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