Manulife Financial (MFC) Lifted to Buy at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Manulife Financial (NYSE:MFC) (TSE:MFC) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report published on Friday. The firm currently has $20.00 price target on the financial services provider’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Year to date, shares of Manulife lost narrower than that of its industry. The liofe insurer continues to witness new business volumes, particularly in Asia and positive net flows in its wealth and asset management businesses, boosting long-term earnings growth. It will lower its allocation to alternative long duration assets over the next 12-18 months to free up $2 billion capital. The company is hell bent on optimizing its portfolio with an objective to release $5 billion in capital by 2022. It is also targeting an expense efficiency ratio of less than 50% or $1 billion in expense savings by 2022. However, the company’s declining group benefit sales in Canada segment will weigh on its results. Moreover, volatile global equity markets coupled with low bond yields have largely hit the company’s capital position.”

A number of other analysts have also recently weighed in on MFC. ValuEngine cut Manulife Financial from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research note on Monday, June 18th. Morgan Stanley cut their price target on Manulife Financial from $27.00 to $26.00 and set an equal weight rating on the stock in a research note on Wednesday, July 11th. Finally, Evercore ISI began coverage on Manulife Financial in a research note on Tuesday, July 10th. They issued an in-line rating on the stock. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, two have assigned a hold rating and five have assigned a buy rating to the company. The stock currently has an average rating of Buy and a consensus target price of $25.67.

NYSE:MFC opened at $16.88 on Friday. Manulife Financial has a 52 week low of $16.68 and a 52 week high of $22.16. The firm has a market cap of $35.48 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 9.87, a PEG ratio of 0.88 and a beta of 1.29.

Manulife Financial (NYSE:MFC) (TSE:MFC) last released its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, August 8th. The financial services provider reported $0.70 EPS for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.49 by $0.21. Manulife Financial had a return on equity of 12.69% and a net margin of 4.22%. The company had revenue of $10.59 billion for the quarter. During the same quarter last year, the company earned $0.57 earnings per share. Sell-side analysts predict that Manulife Financial will post 2.03 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The firm also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Wednesday, September 19th. Shareholders of record on Tuesday, August 21st were paid a $0.169 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Monday, August 20th. This is a boost from Manulife Financial’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.13. This represents a $0.68 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 4.00%. Manulife Financial’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is currently 39.77%.

Several hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of MFC. Northern Trust Corp grew its holdings in shares of Manulife Financial by 17.1% during the first quarter. Northern Trust Corp now owns 2,938,981 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $54,606,000 after purchasing an additional 428,357 shares during the last quarter. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP grew its holdings in shares of Manulife Financial by 3.2% during the first quarter. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP now owns 4,722,012 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $87,735,000 after purchasing an additional 146,342 shares during the last quarter. Sei Investments Co. grew its holdings in shares of Manulife Financial by 123.4% during the first quarter. Sei Investments Co. now owns 450,185 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $8,365,000 after purchasing an additional 248,647 shares during the last quarter. Koch Industries Inc. purchased a new position in shares of Manulife Financial during the first quarter worth about $763,000. Finally, Commonwealth Equity Services LLC grew its holdings in shares of Manulife Financial by 24.1% during the first quarter. Commonwealth Equity Services LLC now owns 221,586 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $4,117,000 after purchasing an additional 42,996 shares during the last quarter. 46.12% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

About Manulife Financial

Manulife Financial Corporation, together with its subsidiaries, provides financial advice, insurance, and wealth and asset management solutions for individuals, groups, and institutions in Asia, Canada, and the United States. The company offers individual life, and individual and group long-term care insurance through insurance agents, brokers, banks, financial planners, and direct marketing.

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