MetLife Inc. (MET) Upgraded to “Hold” at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of MetLife Inc. (NYSE:MET) from a sell rating to a hold rating in a report issued on Monday.

According to Zacks, “MetLife remains exposed to headwinds like low interest rates, adverse foreign exchange, taxes, regulatory uncertainty surrounding its SIFI designation, and stiff competition. The company's earnings estimates for 2016 has been revised down by 3.1% to $4.62 over the past 60 days. The same for 2017 is down 1% to $5.67 over the same time frame. Nevertheless, consistent inorganic growth via acquisitions and divestitures allow it to focus on core growth areas, which in turn, have been paving the way for long-term success. The separation of the company’s retail unit will reduce its risk exposure to equity and interest rates. The company’s ongoing efforts to reduce expenses will cushion its bottom line in the long term. In addition, the company maintains a diversified business mix and is one of the strongest brands in the world. Its strong balance sheet, improved cash balance and lower debt level are other positives.”

Several other brokerages also recently issued reports on MET. Credit Suisse Group AG began coverage on shares of MetLife in a report on Friday, October 7th. They set a neutral rating and a $51.00 price target for the company. Wells Fargo & Co. reaffirmed an outperform rating on shares of MetLife in a research note on Friday, September 23rd. Argus set a $54.00 target price on shares of MetLife and gave the stock a buy rating in a research note on Friday, October 7th. Deutsche Bank AG dropped their target price on shares of MetLife from $47.00 to $44.00 and set a hold rating for the company in a research note on Thursday, July 7th. Finally, FBR & Co boosted their target price on shares of MetLife from $51.00 to $54.00 and gave the stock an outperform rating in a research note on Monday, August 29th. Eight equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating, eleven have issued a buy rating and two have given a strong buy rating to the stock. The stock currently has an average rating of Buy and a consensus target price of $51.95.

Shares of MetLife (NYSE:MET) traded up 0.62% during midday trading on Monday, hitting $46.96. 878,616 shares of the company traded hands. MetLife has a 12-month low of $35.00 and a 12-month high of $52.45. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $44.65 and its 200 day moving average is $43.25. The stock has a market capitalization of $51.60 billion, a P/E ratio of 12.34 and a beta of 1.84.

MetLife (NYSE:MET) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, August 3rd. The company reported $0.83 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, missing the consensus estimate of $1.35 by $0.52. MetLife had a net margin of 6.49% and a return on equity of 6.18%. The firm had revenue of $17 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $17.35 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the business earned $1.56 earnings per share. The company’s revenue for the quarter was down 2.3% on a year-over-year basis. On average, analysts expect that MetLife will post $4.64 earnings per share for the current year.

In other news, EVP Maria R. Morris sold 8,800 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, October 4th. The shares were sold at an average price of $45.00, for a total value of $396,000.00. Following the sale, the executive vice president now owns 116,409 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $5,238,405. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, EVP Maria R. Morris sold 2,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, August 2nd. The stock was sold at an average price of $42.96, for a total transaction of $85,920.00. Following the completion of the sale, the executive vice president now directly owns 109,273 shares in the company, valued at approximately $4,694,368.08. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 0.27% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

Several hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in MET. CWM LLC raised its stake in shares of MetLife by 46.0% in the third quarter. CWM LLC now owns 67,257 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,988,000 after buying an additional 21,195 shares in the last quarter. CrestPoint Capital Management LLC raised its stake in shares of MetLife by 51.7% in the third quarter. CrestPoint Capital Management LLC now owns 17,600 shares of the company’s stock worth $782,000 after buying an additional 6,000 shares in the last quarter. Jolley Asset Management LLC raised its stake in shares of MetLife by 6.7% in the third quarter. Jolley Asset Management LLC now owns 74,156 shares of the company’s stock worth $3,295,000 after buying an additional 4,670 shares in the last quarter. Windward Capital Management Co. CA raised its stake in shares of MetLife by 72.5% in the third quarter. Windward Capital Management Co. CA now owns 9,899 shares of the company’s stock worth $440,000 after buying an additional 4,161 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Charter Trust Co. raised its stake in shares of MetLife by 38.5% in the third quarter. Charter Trust Co. now owns 20,109 shares of the company’s stock worth $893,000 after buying an additional 5,593 shares in the last quarter. 74.81% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

MetLife Company Profile

MetLife, Inc (MetLife) is a provider of life insurance, annuities, employee benefits and asset management. The Company’s segments include Retail; Group, Voluntary & Worksite Benefits; Corporate Benefit Funding; Latin America (collectively, the Americas); Asia, and Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

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