Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of Manulife Financial (NYSE:MFC) (TSE:MFC) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research report released on Thursday.
According to Zacks, “Shares of Manulife outperformed the industry in a year. Manulife continues to witness new business volumes, particularly in Asia, and positive net flows in its wealth and asset management businesses, driving long-term earnings growth. It remains on track to achieve more than $100 million in expense synergies. However, declining group benefit sales in Canada segment will weigh on results. Volatile global equity markets coupled with low bond yields has largely affected the company’s capital position. Manulife will lower allocation to alternative long duration assets over the next 12-18 months to free up $2 billion capital.Also, with the new tax structure, Manulife will incur $1.9 billion or 96 cents charge per share but net and core earnings might rise by $250 million per year from 2018. Manulife’s fourth-quarter earnings improved year over year on strong growth in Asia and wealth and asset management businesses.”
Several other research analysts have also commented on MFC. Morgan Stanley cut their price objective on Manulife Financial from $29.00 to $28.00 and set an equal weight rating for the company in a report on Thursday. Scotiabank restated a buy rating and issued a $31.00 target price on shares of Manulife Financial in a research report on Wednesday, January 31st. Finally, National Bank Financial upgraded Manulife Financial from a sector perform rating to an outperform rating in a research report on Wednesday, January 24th. Two equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and four have assigned a buy rating to the stock. The company currently has an average rating of Buy and a consensus target price of $27.00.
The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, March 19th. Investors of record on Wednesday, February 21st will be given a $0.175 dividend. This is an increase from Manulife Financial’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.16. The ex-dividend date is Tuesday, February 20th. This represents a $0.70 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 3.63%. Manulife Financial’s payout ratio is presently 94.59%.
A number of large investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. Candriam Luxembourg S.C.A. lifted its position in Manulife Financial by 1.6% in the 3rd quarter. Candriam Luxembourg S.C.A. now owns 158,488 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $3,207,000 after buying an additional 2,514 shares during the last quarter. BB&T Corp lifted its position in Manulife Financial by 5.3% in the 4th quarter. BB&T Corp now owns 57,051 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $1,190,000 after buying an additional 2,849 shares during the last quarter. Envestnet Asset Management Inc. lifted its position in Manulife Financial by 1.8% in the 4th quarter. Envestnet Asset Management Inc. now owns 162,061 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $3,382,000 after buying an additional 2,869 shares during the last quarter. Bridge Creek Capital Management LLC lifted its position in Manulife Financial by 6.5% in the 4th quarter. Bridge Creek Capital Management LLC now owns 53,146 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $1,108,000 after buying an additional 3,246 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Raymond James Financial Services Advisors Inc. lifted its position in Manulife Financial by 3.7% in the 4th quarter. Raymond James Financial Services Advisors Inc. now owns 92,279 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $1,925,000 after buying an additional 3,256 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors own 47.06% of the company’s stock.
About Manulife Financial
Manulife Financial Corporation (MFC) is a holding company of The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company (MLI), which is a life insurance company, and John Hancock Reassurance Company Ltd. (JHRECO), which is a reinsurance company. The Company operates as a financial services company with principal operations in Asia, Canada and the United States.
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