Principal Financial Group (PFG) Upgraded to “Buy” at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Principal Financial Group (NYSE:PFG) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report sent to investors on Thursday. They currently have $79.00 price target on the financial services provider’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Shares of Principal Financial have outperformed the industry in the last three months. Focus on fee-based revenue sources has been helping the company to earn steadily and limits exposure to the interest rate environment. Principal Financial targets a return on equity improvement of 30-60 basis points annually. Its inorganic story remains impressive with buyouts strengthening its international footprint. The company’s assets under management have also been steadily increasing.  It also remains focused on effective capital deployment to enhance the shareholder value, targeting $0.9-$1.3 billion in 2018. However, higher leverage inducing increase in interest weigh on margin expansion remains a headwind. The company is expected to report fourth-quarter results in the last week of January. A Zacks Rank of 2, which increases the predictive power of ESP, and an Earnings ESP of +0.98% makes us confident of a likely positive earnings surprise.”

Several other research firms have also recently weighed in on PFG. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods reissued a hold rating and issued a $73.00 price objective on shares of Principal Financial Group in a research report on Monday, December 11th. Wells Fargo & Co set a $79.00 price objective on Principal Financial Group and gave the stock a buy rating in a research report on Thursday, December 7th. Goldman Sachs Group began coverage on Principal Financial Group in a research report on Wednesday, October 18th. They issued a neutral rating and a $70.00 price objective on the stock. Morgan Stanley boosted their price objective on Principal Financial Group from $67.00 to $72.00 and gave the stock an equal weight rating in a research report on Thursday, October 5th. Finally, Royal Bank of Canada reissued a buy rating and issued a $74.00 price objective on shares of Principal Financial Group in a research report on Wednesday, September 6th. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, six have issued a hold rating and three have issued a buy rating to the stock. The company has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $68.80.

Shares of Principal Financial Group (PFG) traded up $0.55 during trading hours on Thursday, hitting $72.00. The company had a trading volume of 1,013,660 shares, compared to its average volume of 1,000,000. The stock has a market capitalization of $20,790.00, a PE ratio of 11.80, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.35 and a beta of 1.72. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.26, a quick ratio of 0.10 and a current ratio of 0.10. Principal Financial Group has a one year low of $56.12 and a one year high of $72.23.

Principal Financial Group (NYSE:PFG) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, October 26th. The financial services provider reported $1.28 earnings per share for the quarter, missing the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.30 by ($0.02). Principal Financial Group had a return on equity of 13.55% and a net margin of 12.35%. The business had revenue of $3.95 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $3.12 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the firm posted $1.15 EPS. analysts anticipate that Principal Financial Group will post 5.22 earnings per share for the current year.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Thursday, December 28th. Shareholders of record on Monday, December 4th were paid a $0.49 dividend. The ex-dividend date was Friday, December 1st. This is a positive change from Principal Financial Group’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.47. This represents a $1.96 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.72%. Principal Financial Group’s payout ratio is presently 32.13%.

In other Principal Financial Group news, Chairman Daniel Joseph Houston sold 38,097 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Wednesday, October 18th. The stock was sold at an average price of $68.00, for a total value of $2,590,596.00. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which can be accessed through this hyperlink. Also, CFO Deanna D. Strable-Soethout sold 18,905 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, November 28th. The shares were sold at an average price of $70.07, for a total value of $1,324,673.35. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last 90 days, insiders sold 255,475 shares of company stock worth $17,734,943. Corporate insiders own 1.50% of the company’s stock.

Several institutional investors and hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of PFG. Sun Life Financial INC raised its stake in shares of Principal Financial Group by 21,822.2% in the second quarter. Sun Life Financial INC now owns 1,973 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $126,000 after buying an additional 1,964 shares during the period. Koch Industries Inc. bought a new stake in shares of Principal Financial Group in the second quarter valued at $210,000. First Heartland Consultants Inc. bought a new stake in shares of Principal Financial Group in the third quarter valued at $224,000. Honkamp Krueger Financial Services Inc. bought a new stake in shares of Principal Financial Group in the third quarter valued at $226,000. Finally, Private Advisor Group LLC bought a new stake in shares of Principal Financial Group in the third quarter valued at $255,000. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 68.64% of the company’s stock.

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About Principal Financial Group

Principal Financial Group, Inc is an investment management company. The Company offers a range of financial products and services, including retirement, asset management and insurance. Its segments include Retirement and Income Solutions; Principal Global Investors, Principal International; U.S. Insurance Solutions, and Corporate.

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