Unum Group (NYSE:UNM) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research note issued on Thursday. The brokerage presently has a $56.00 target price on the financial services provider’s stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s target price would indicate a potential upside of 12.72% from the stock’s current price.

According to Zacks, “Shares of Unum Group have outperformed industry in a year's time.Moreover, the company has witnessed its 2017 and 2018 estimates moving north over the last 60 days. The company’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.”

UNM has been the subject of several other research reports. BidaskClub upgraded shares of Unum Group from a “buy” rating to a “strong-buy” rating in a research report on Friday, August 11th. Royal Bank Of Canada restated a “hold” rating on shares of Unum Group in a research report on Wednesday, July 12th. Barclays PLC upped their price target on shares of Unum Group from $56.00 to $57.00 and gave the company an “overweight” rating in a research report on Friday, August 11th. Wells Fargo & Company restated a “hold” rating on shares of Unum Group in a research report on Sunday, July 30th. Finally, ValuEngine upgraded shares of Unum Group from a “buy” rating to a “strong-buy” rating in a research report on Friday, September 1st. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, six have issued a hold rating, three have given a buy rating and one has given a strong buy rating to the company. The company has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $46.78.

Unum Group (UNM) traded up 0.24% during mid-day trading on Thursday, reaching $49.80. 146,900 shares of the company’s stock traded hands. Unum Group has a 52-week low of $33.98 and a 52-week high of $51.43. The company has a market capitalization of $11.24 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 11.99 and a beta of 1.57. The company has a 50-day moving average of $48.82 and a 200-day moving average of $47.20.

Unum Group (NYSE:UNM) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, July 27th. The financial services provider reported $1.05 EPS for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.01 by $0.04. The business had revenue of $2.81 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $2.80 billion. Unum Group had a net margin of 8.57% and a return on equity of 10.23%. During the same quarter in the prior year, the firm earned $1.00 EPS. Equities research analysts expect that Unum Group will post $4.17 EPS for the current year.

Unum Group declared that its board has authorized a stock buyback plan on Thursday, May 25th that authorizes the company to repurchase $750.00 million in outstanding shares. This repurchase authorization authorizes the financial services provider to buy up to 7.2% of its stock through open market purchases. Stock repurchase plans are generally an indication that the company’s board believes its shares are undervalued.

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In other Unum Group news, EVP Breege A. Farrell sold 15,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, June 23rd. The shares were sold at an average price of $45.47, for a total value of $682,050.00. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available at this link. Also, Director Pamela H. Godwin sold 2,500 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, August 7th. The shares were sold at an average price of $50.71, for a total transaction of $126,775.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last quarter, insiders sold 19,960 shares of company stock worth $932,391. Company insiders own 0.53% of the company’s stock.

A number of institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the business. Sentry Investment Management LLC increased its stake in Unum Group by 1.1% in the 2nd quarter. Sentry Investment Management LLC now owns 18,223 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $850,000 after buying an additional 202 shares during the period. Dynamic Technology Lab Private Ltd acquired a new position in Unum Group in the 2nd quarter valued at approximately $246,000. Cambridge Financial Group Inc. increased its stake in Unum Group by 2.5% in the 2nd quarter. Cambridge Financial Group Inc. now owns 120,798 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $5,633,000 after buying an additional 2,918 shares during the period. Koch Industries Inc. acquired a new position in Unum Group in the 2nd quarter valued at approximately $209,000. Finally, Piedmont Investment Advisors LLC increased its stake in Unum Group by 3.6% in the 2nd quarter. Piedmont Investment Advisors LLC now owns 27,106 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $1,264,000 after buying an additional 937 shares during the period. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 92.34% of the company’s stock.

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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