Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of AFLAC (NYSE:AFL) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report issued on Tuesday morning. They currently have $52.00 price objective on the financial services provider’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Aflac’s shares have outperformed the growth of its industry in the past year. The company’s growth has been boosted by overall favorable pretax margins and a lower effective tax rate as a result of tax reform. The company's investment in different growth areas bodes well. Ample capital enables it to buy back shares and raise dividend payouts. Efforts to increase agent productivity, emphasis on sale of third-sector products, pull back on sale of first-sector products, and new products bode well for the long term. The U.S segment will remain strong on a number of growth initiatives. However, the company’s persistently low interest rates in Japan have strained revenue growth from the region.”

A number of other analysts also recently weighed in on the stock. B. Riley boosted their target price on shares of AFLAC from $42.00 to $46.00 and gave the stock a neutral rating in a report on Tuesday. Sandler O’Neill upgraded shares of AFLAC from a hold rating to a buy rating and set a $52.00 target price on the stock in a report on Wednesday, August 1st. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods restated a hold rating and issued a $50.00 target price on shares of AFLAC in a report on Wednesday, August 1st. ValuEngine downgraded shares of AFLAC from a hold rating to a sell rating in a report on Monday, July 2nd. Finally, JPMorgan Chase & Co. set a $47.00 target price on shares of AFLAC and gave the stock a buy rating in a report on Thursday, April 26th. Two research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have assigned a hold rating, four have assigned a buy rating and two have assigned a strong buy rating to the stock. The company has an average rating of Hold and an average price target of $47.50.

Shares of AFL stock opened at $46.76 on Tuesday. The firm has a market capitalization of $35.86 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 12.39, a P/E/G ratio of 1.36 and a beta of 0.98. AFLAC has a 52 week low of $39.58 and a 52 week high of $47.08. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.22, a quick ratio of 0.05 and a current ratio of 0.05.

AFLAC (NYSE:AFL) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, July 26th. The financial services provider reported $1.07 EPS for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $0.99 by $0.08. The business had revenue of $5.59 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $5.52 billion. AFLAC had a net margin of 21.00% and a return on equity of 12.53%. The business’s quarterly revenue was up 3.0% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter in the previous year, the company earned $0.92 EPS. equities analysts expect that AFLAC will post 4.06 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Saturday, September 1st. Stockholders of record on Wednesday, August 22nd will be issued a $0.26 dividend. The ex-dividend date is Tuesday, August 21st. This represents a $1.04 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.22%. AFLAC’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 30.59%.

In other news, insider Eric M. Kirsch sold 66,447 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction dated Friday, June 29th. The shares were sold at an average price of $43.31, for a total value of $2,877,819.57. Following the sale, the insider now directly owns 128,796 shares in the company, valued at approximately $5,578,154.76. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is accessible through this link. Insiders own 3.00% of the company’s stock.

A number of large investors have recently modified their holdings of AFL. BlackRock Inc. grew its holdings in AFLAC by 105.9% during the 1st quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 51,061,717 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $2,234,459,000 after purchasing an additional 26,264,017 shares during the last quarter. Northern Trust Corp grew its holdings in AFLAC by 96.3% during the 1st quarter. Northern Trust Corp now owns 10,631,066 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $465,215,000 after purchasing an additional 5,215,905 shares during the last quarter. Old Mutual Global Investors UK Ltd. grew its holdings in AFLAC by 681.1% during the 1st quarter. Old Mutual Global Investors UK Ltd. now owns 4,891,075 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $214,033,000 after purchasing an additional 4,264,932 shares during the last quarter. LSV Asset Management grew its holdings in AFLAC by 111.3% during the 1st quarter. LSV Asset Management now owns 6,070,376 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $265,639,000 after purchasing an additional 3,196,878 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Dimensional Fund Advisors LP grew its holdings in AFLAC by 98.9% during the 1st quarter. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP now owns 6,240,111 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $273,050,000 after purchasing an additional 3,103,311 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors own 67.81% of the company’s stock.

About AFLAC

Aflac Incorporated, through its subsidiary, American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus, provides voluntary supplemental health and life insurance products. It operates through two segments, Aflac Japan and Aflac U.S. The Aflac Japan segment offers voluntary supplemental insurance products, including cancer plans, general medical indemnity plans, medical/sickness riders, care plans, living benefit life plans, ordinary life insurance plans, and annuities in Japan.

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