Zacks Investment Research Upgrades Torchmark Co. (TMK) to Hold

Torchmark Co. (NYSE:TMK) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report issued on Friday.

According to Zacks, “Torchmark’s niche market focus, steady capital deployment and strong operating fundamentals should drive long-term growth and thus drive shares higher. Torchmark estimates life and health sales growth in distribution channels. Also, a strong capital position and robust capital management are key positives. Torchmark expects net operating income between $4.57 and $4.77 in 2017. Also, shares of Torchmark outperformed the Zacks categorized Life Insurance industry, year to date. However, higher administrative expenses, pension costs and investments in IT systems will likely be a drag on Torchmark’s earnings in the near term.”

Other equities analysts also recently issued research reports about the stock. Deutsche Bank AG upped their price objective on shares of Torchmark from $60.00 to $69.00 and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a research report on Monday, January 23rd. Evercore ISI downgraded shares of Torchmark from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating and set a $70.00 price objective for the company. in a research report on Wednesday, January 11th. Barclays PLC restated a “sell” rating and set a $65.00 price objective on shares of Torchmark in a research report on Monday, January 9th. Finally, Bank of America Corp downgraded shares of Torchmark from a “neutral” rating to an “underperform” rating in a research report on Friday, November 18th. Six investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating and five have assigned a hold rating to the company. The stock presently has an average rating of “Sell” and a consensus price target of $66.13.

Analyst Recommendations for Torchmark (NYSE:TMK)

Torchmark (NYSE:TMK) opened at 78.42 on Friday. Torchmark has a 52 week low of $52.46 and a 52 week high of $79.53. The firm’s 50-day moving average is $76.61 and its 200-day moving average is $70.57. The stock has a market capitalization of $9.23 billion, a P/E ratio of 17.45 and a beta of 0.99.

Torchmark (NYSE:TMK) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, February 1st. The company reported $1.16 EPS for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.13 by $0.03. The company earned $975 million during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $989.40 million. Torchmark had a net margin of 13.95% and a return on equity of 11.52%. Torchmark’s quarterly revenue was up 4.4% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the prior year, the firm earned $1.05 EPS. On average, equities research analysts predict that Torchmark will post $4.69 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, May 1st. Stockholders of record on Monday, April 3rd will be paid a dividend of $0.15 per share. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, March 30th. This is a boost from Torchmark’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.14. This represents a $0.60 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 0.77%. Torchmark’s dividend payout ratio is 12.42%.

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In other news, insider John Henry Rogers, Jr. sold 1,500 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Wednesday, March 1st. The shares were sold at an average price of $78.53, for a total transaction of $117,795.00. Following the transaction, the insider now directly owns 1,500 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $117,795. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, VP Ben Lutek sold 32,500 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Friday, February 3rd. The stock was sold at an average price of $74.44, for a total transaction of $2,419,300.00. Following the transaction, the vice president now directly owns 33,600 shares in the company, valued at $2,501,184. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last ninety days, insiders have sold 116,028 shares of company stock worth $8,844,204. Corporate insiders own 3.96% of the company’s stock.

Large investors have recently modified their holdings of the stock. State Street Corp boosted its stake in shares of Torchmark by 8.0% in the fourth quarter. State Street Corp now owns 5,701,513 shares of the company’s stock worth $420,547,000 after buying an additional 423,222 shares during the last quarter. BlackRock Institutional Trust Company N.A. boosted its stake in shares of Torchmark 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 during the last quarter. BlackRock Fund Advisors boosted its stake in shares of Torchmark 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 during the last quarter. Northern Trust Corp boosted its stake in shares of Torchmark by 1.4% in the third quarter. Northern Trust Corp now owns 1,205,602 shares of the company’s stock worth $77,024,000 after buying an additional 17,205 shares during the last quarter. Finally, TD Asset Management Inc. boosted its stake in shares of Torchmark by 5.6% in the third quarter. TD Asset Management Inc. now owns 1,025,432 shares of the company’s stock worth $65,515,000 after buying an additional 54,700 shares during the last quarter. 73.68% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

About Torchmark

Torchmark Corporation (Torchmark) is an insurance holding company. The Company, through its subsidiaries, provides a range of life and health insurance products and annuities to a base of customers. The Company’s segments include life insurance, health insurance, annuities and investment. The life insurance segment includes traditional and interest-sensitive whole life insurance as well as term life insurance.

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