Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Torchmark Co. (NYSE:TMK) from a sell rating to a hold rating in a research report report published 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 reports about the company. Evercore ISI downgraded Torchmark from a hold rating to a sell rating and set a $70.00 target price on the stock. in a research report on Wednesday, January 11th. Barclays PLC reiterated a sell rating and set a $65.00 target price on shares of Torchmark in a research report on Monday, January 9th. Bank of America Corp downgraded Torchmark from a neutral rating to an underperform rating in a research report on Friday, November 18th. Finally, Deutsche Bank AG raised their price target on Torchmark from $60.00 to $69.00 and gave the company a hold rating in a report on Monday, January 23rd. Six equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating and five have assigned a hold rating to the stock. The stock presently has a consensus rating of Sell and a consensus price target of $66.13.

Analyst Recommendations for Torchmark (NYSE:TMK)

Shares of Torchmark (NYSE:TMK) traded down 0.08% during midday trading on Friday, reaching $78.57. The company had a trading volume of 205,691 shares. The firm has a market capitalization of $9.25 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 17.49 and a beta of 0.99. The stock has a 50-day moving average of $76.61 and a 200 day moving average of $70.57. Torchmark has a 52 week low of $52.46 and a 52 week high of $79.53.

Torchmark (NYSE:TMK) last released its earnings results on Wednesday, February 1st. The company reported $1.16 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.13 by $0.03. The company had revenue of $975 million for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $989.40 million. Torchmark had a return on equity of 11.52% and a net margin of 13.95%. Torchmark’s quarterly revenue was up 4.4% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period in the previous year, the business earned $1.05 earnings per share. On average, analysts anticipate that Torchmark will post $4.69 earnings per share for the current year.

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The firm also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, May 1st. Shareholders of record on Monday, April 3rd will be issued 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 yield of 0.76%. Torchmark’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is currently 12.42%.

In other Torchmark news, insider Steven John Dichiaro sold 15,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Friday, February 24th. The stock was sold at an average price of $77.34, for a total transaction of $1,160,100.00. Following the sale, the insider now directly owns 23,360 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $1,806,662.40. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available through this hyperlink. Also, insider John Henry Rogers, Jr. sold 1,500 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, March 1st. The shares were sold at an average price of $78.53, for a total value of $117,795.00. Following the sale, the insider now directly owns 1,500 shares in the company, valued at $117,795. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last three months, insiders have sold 116,028 shares of company stock worth $8,844,204. Insiders own 3.96% of the company’s stock.

Several large investors have recently modified their holdings of the company. Equity Investment Corp Acquisition Inc purchased a new stake in shares of Torchmark during the fourth quarter valued at about $68,376,000. Victory Capital Management Inc. boosted its stake in shares of Torchmark by 4,035.5% in the third quarter. Victory Capital Management Inc. now owns 475,786 shares of the company’s stock valued at $30,398,000 after buying an additional 464,281 shares during the period. 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 valued at $420,547,000 after buying an additional 423,222 shares during the period. Asset Management One Co. Ltd. boosted its stake in shares of Torchmark by 1,944.4% in the fourth quarter. Asset Management One Co. Ltd. now owns 194,132 shares of the company’s stock valued at $14,317,000 after buying an additional 184,636 shares during the period. Finally, Gillson Capital LP purchased a new stake in shares of Torchmark during the fourth quarter valued at about $10,281,000. 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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