On Jan 8, Zacks Investment Research upgraded
ING U.S. Inc.
) to a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) from a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).
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Why the Upgrade?
ING U.S. has witnessed rising earnings estimates on the back of
solid results and a decent effort to increase shareholders'
value. This multi-line insurer delivered positive earnings
surprises in two of the last four quarters, with an average beat
of 39.1%. The expected long-term growth of the stock is pegged at
In its last reported quarter, net operating earnings of ING U.S
stood at $1.08 a share, which significantly surpassed the Zacks
Consensus Estimate by 63.6% and the year-ago quarter's result by
42.1%. The outperformance came on the back of strong results at
Retirement, Annuities and Individual Life segments.
Higher top-line growth was partially offset by expense growth,
leading to an operating margin expansion. Operating margin
improved 620 basis points year over year to 33.5%. Meanwhile,
positive net flows also drove the asset under management during
During the quarter, the company's asset under management (AUM)
also improved, partially driven by positive net flows in both
Investment Management and Retirement businesses.
ING U.S. is also garnering investors' confidence by distributing
more profits among its shareholders. Recently, the company has
announced its regular quarterly dividend of one cent per share
for its shareholders in the fourth quarter. This quarterly
dividend currently yields at 0.11%.
Meanwhile, ING U.S. is looking reasonably good on its own too.
The firm has seen solid earnings estimate revision activity over
the past two months, suggesting analysts are becoming a bit more
bullish on the firm's prospects in both the short and the long
In fact, over the past two months, Zacks Consensus Estimate for
2013 have risen 3.9% to $3.21 a share, as it witnessed 5 upward
revisions of the estimates during the same period. Estimates for
2014 also inched up1.1% to $2.83 per share in past 60 days.
Other Stocks to Consider
Other top-ranked multiline insurers worth considering include
CNO Financial Group, Inc.
). All these stocks sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).