Sun Life Financial Inc. (SLF) Upgraded to “Buy” at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Sun Life Financial Inc. (NYSE:SLF) (TSE:SLF) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report sent to investors on Tuesday morning. The brokerage currently has $44.00 target price on the stock.

According to Zacks, “Shares of Sun Life Financial outperformed the Zacks-categorized Life Insurance industry in the last three months. Sun Life’s aggressive re-designing of products, improved pricing, and focus on segments with higher growth and return complemented by market factor of reduced interest rate and market risk bode well. A strong balance sheet with a well-endowed cash balance, effective capital deployment in growth initiatives will fuel earning, ROE and enhance shareholders’ value. Riding on operational strength, the company envisions growing its bottom line between 8% and 10% and ROE between 12% and 14% over the medium term. A well-diversified business profile positions it well for the long term. However, Sun Life remains exposed to macro headwinds, regulatory uncertainties and rising expenses. These in turn continues to weigh on earnings and thus constrain growth.”

SLF has been the subject of several other research reports. Argus cut Sun Life Financial from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research note on Friday, December 23rd. They noted that the move was a valuation call. Dundee Securities began coverage on Sun Life Financial in a research note on Wednesday, September 21st. They set a buy rating for the company. Canaccord Genuity cut Sun Life Financial from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research note on Thursday, November 17th. Scotiabank reaffirmed an outperform rating and set a $50.00 target price (up previously from $46.00) on shares of Sun Life Financial in a research note on Tuesday, November 8th. Finally, RBC Capital Markets reaffirmed an outperform rating and set a $53.00 target price (up previously from $45.00) on shares of Sun Life Financial in a research note on Friday, November 11th. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, five have assigned a hold rating and eleven have assigned a buy rating to the company. The stock has an average rating of Buy and a consensus target price of $45.83.

Sun Life Financial (NYSE:SLF) traded up 1.59% during mid-day trading on Tuesday, reaching $39.63. 271,514 shares of the company were exchanged. Sun Life Financial has a 12 month low of $25.31 and a 12 month high of $39.87. The company has a market cap of $24.29 billion, a P/E ratio of 14.09 and a beta of 1.15. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $38.88 and its 200-day moving average is $34.33.

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The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, December 30th. Stockholders of record on Wednesday, November 30th were paid a dividend of $0.3134 per share. The ex-dividend date was Monday, November 28th. This is an increase from Sun Life Financial’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.31. This represents a $1.25 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 3.21%. Sun Life Financial’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is 44.48%.

Several large investors have recently bought and sold shares of SLF. 1832 Asset Management L.P. increased its stake in Sun Life Financial by 70.0% in the third quarter. 1832 Asset Management L.P. now owns 10,620,902 shares of the company’s stock worth $345,730,000 after buying an additional 4,374,337 shares during the period. The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company purchased a new stake in Sun Life Financial during the third quarter worth $122,394,000. Mackenzie Financial Corp purchased a new stake in Sun Life Financial during the second quarter worth $121,640,000. Vanguard Group Inc. increased its stake in Sun Life Financial by 12.1% in the second quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 11,618,189 shares of the company’s stock worth $381,425,000 after buying an additional 1,257,170 shares during the period. Finally, Connor Clark & Lunn Investment Management Ltd. increased its stake in Sun Life Financial by 8.7% in the third quarter. Connor Clark & Lunn Investment Management Ltd. now owns 10,836,010 shares of the company’s stock worth $351,980,000 after buying an additional 863,273 shares during the period. 43.55% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

About Sun Life Financial

Sun Life Financial Inc is the holding company of Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada. The Company is a financial services organization providing a range of protection and wealth products and services. It operates in five segments: Sun Life Financial Canada (SLF Canada), Sun Life Financial United States (SLF U.S.), Sun Life Financial Asset Management (SLF Asset Management), Sun Life Financial Asia (SLF Asia) and Corporate.

5 Day Chart for NYSE:SLF

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