Zacks Investment Research Downgrades Torchmark Corp. (TMK) to Sell

Zacks Investment Research Downgrades Torchmark Corp. (TMK) to Sell

Torchmark Corp. (NYSE:TMK) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research report issued to clients and investors on Wednesday.

According to Zacks, “Higher administrative expenses, pension costs and investments in IT systems will likely be a drag on Torchmark’s earnings in the near term. Also, low interest rate environment will continue to impact investment income. Nonetheless, shares of Torchmark have significantly outperformed the Zacks categorized Life Insurance industry, year-to-date. Niche market focus, steady capital deployment and strong operating fundamentals should drive long-term growth. Torchmark estimates life and health sales growth in distribution channels. Also, a strong capital position and robust capital management are key positives. It expects 2016 life-underwriting margin to increase about 1% over 2015 while for health the same is estimated to grow about 2%. Concurrently, Torchmark expects net operating income between $4.43 per share and $4.49 per share in 2016 and between $4.55 and $4.85 in 2017. “

A number of other equities research analysts have also issued reports on the stock. Bank of America Corp. lowered shares of Torchmark Corp. from a “neutral” rating to an “underperform” rating in a report on Friday, November 18th. Credit Suisse Group AG started coverage on shares of Torchmark Corp. in a report on Friday, October 7th. They issued a “neutral” rating and a $68.00 price target on the stock. Finally, Wells Fargo & Co. reaffirmed an “underperform” rating on shares of Torchmark Corp. in a research report on Friday, September 23rd. Six analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating and seven have issued a hold rating to the company’s stock. The company has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $59.90.

Shares of Torchmark Corp. (NYSE:TMK) opened at 74.49 on Wednesday. Torchmark Corp. has a 52-week low of $48.47 and a 52-week high of $75.07. The stock’s 50 day moving average is $71.67 and its 200 day moving average is $64.95. The company has a market capitalization of $8.84 billion, a P/E ratio of 16.80 and a beta of 0.99.

Torchmark Corp. (NYSE:TMK) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, October 25th. The company reported $1.15 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.12 by $0.03. The business had revenue of $990 million for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $964.48 million. Torchmark Corp. had a net margin of 14.05% and a return on equity of 11.77%. The company’s revenue was up 4.5% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter last year, the firm earned $1.08 EPS. Equities analysts expect that Torchmark Corp. will post $4.47 EPS for the current year.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Wednesday, February 1st. Shareholders of record on Friday, January 6th will be paid a dividend of $0.14 per share. The ex-dividend date is Wednesday, January 4th. This represents a $0.56 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 0.75%. Torchmark Corp.’s dividend payout ratio is currently 12.56%.

In other Torchmark Corp. news, insider Larry M. Hutchison sold 37,500 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Thursday, October 27th. The shares were sold at an average price of $63.27, for a total transaction of $2,372,625.00. Following the completion of the sale, the insider now directly owns 519,198 shares in the company, valued at approximately $32,849,657.46. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, VP Ben Lutek sold 24,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Thursday, October 27th. The shares were sold at an average price of $63.45, for a total transaction of $1,522,800.00. Following the sale, the vice president now owns 32,400 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $2,055,780. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Company insiders own 3.96% of the company’s stock.

Hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. Vanguard Group Inc. raised its stake in Torchmark Corp. by 1.4% in the second quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 10,914,289 shares of the company’s stock worth $674,722,000 after buying an additional 150,220 shares in the last quarter. FMR LLC raised its stake in Torchmark Corp. by 21.4% in the second quarter. FMR LLC now owns 4,299,373 shares of the company’s stock worth $265,788,000 after buying an additional 757,907 shares in the last quarter. BlackRock Institutional Trust Company N.A. raised its stake in Torchmark Corp. by 1.4% in the third quarter. BlackRock Institutional Trust Company N.A. now owns 3,364,173 shares of the company’s stock worth $214,937,000 after buying an additional 45,517 shares in the last quarter. Caisse DE Depot ET Placement DU Quebec raised its stake in Torchmark Corp. by 3.9% in the second quarter. Caisse DE Depot ET Placement DU Quebec now owns 2,678,643 shares of the company’s stock worth $165,594,000 after buying an additional 100,300 shares in the last quarter. Finally, BlackRock Fund Advisors raised its stake in Torchmark Corp. by 5.0% in the third quarter. BlackRock Fund Advisors now owns 1,997,773 shares of the company’s stock worth $127,638,000 after buying an additional 94,802 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 72.22% of the company’s stock.

About Torchmark Corp.

Torchmark Corporation is an insurance holding company. The Company, through its subsidiaries, provides a range of life and health insurance products and annuities to a broad base of customers. The Company’s segments include life insurance, health insurance, annuities and investment. The life insurance segment offers whole-life insurance and term life insurance.

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