Principal Financial Group (PFG) Rating Lowered to Sell at Zacks Investment Research

Principal Financial Group (NYSE:PFG) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research note issued on Wednesday.

According to Zacks, “Shares of Principal Financial have underperformed the industry in a year's time. The stock also witnessed its 2018 and 2019 estimates moving down in the last 60 days. Higher leverage inducing increase in interest weighing on margin expansion remains a headwind. Nonetheless, focus on fee-based revenue sources has been helping Principal Financial earn steadily and limiting its exposure to the interest rate environment. The company targets a return on equity improvement of 30-60 basis points annually, and a long-term earnings growth rate between 9% and 12%. Its inorganic growth story remains impressive with buyouts fortifying the international footprint. Its assets under management have also been steadily rising. Plus, it sets sights on effective capital deployment to enhance the shareholder value, which is targeted to reach $0.9-$1.3-billion mark in 2018.”

A number of other equities research analysts also recently weighed in on the stock. Wells Fargo & Co set a $66.00 price target on shares of Principal Financial Group and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a research note on Wednesday, May 23rd. Morgan Stanley lowered their target price on shares of Principal Financial Group from $77.00 to $74.00 and set an “equal weight” rating for the company in a research note on Friday, April 27th. Credit Suisse Group initiated coverage on shares of Principal Financial Group in a research note on Wednesday, April 25th. They issued a “neutral” rating and a $62.00 target price for the company. Bank of America initiated coverage on shares of Principal Financial Group in a research note on Monday, March 26th. They issued a “neutral” rating and a $65.00 target price for the company. Finally, UBS Group initiated coverage on shares of Principal Financial Group in a research note on Friday, March 2nd. They issued a “neutral” rating and a $69.00 target price for the company. Two research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, seven have given a hold rating and three have given a buy rating to the stock. Principal Financial Group currently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $71.00.

Shares of PFG traded down $0.27 on Wednesday, reaching $53.90. 15,603 shares of the company’s stock were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 1,622,012. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.26, a current ratio of 0.10 and a quick ratio of 0.10. Principal Financial Group has a 12 month low of $53.98 and a 12 month high of $75.58.

Principal Financial Group (NYSE:PFG) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, April 26th. The financial services provider reported $1.40 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.35 by $0.05. The business had revenue of $2.91 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $3.54 billion. Principal Financial Group had a net margin of 12.35% and a return on equity of 13.55%. During the same period in the previous year, the firm posted $1.27 earnings per share. analysts forecast that Principal Financial Group will post 5.22 EPS for the current year.

Principal Financial Group announced that its Board of Directors has approved a stock buyback plan on Monday, May 7th that permits the company to repurchase $300.00 million in shares. This repurchase authorization permits the financial services provider to reacquire up to 1.7% of its shares through open market purchases. Shares repurchase plans are usually a sign that the company’s board believes its shares are undervalued.

In other news, insider James P. Mccaughan sold 20,000 shares of the stock in a transaction on Monday, June 4th. The shares were sold at an average price of $56.31, for a total transaction of $1,126,200.00. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this link. 1.50% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

Several hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of PFG. Wells Fargo & Company MN increased its position in shares of Principal Financial Group by 5.7% during the fourth quarter. Wells Fargo & Company MN now owns 518,242 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $36,568,000 after acquiring an additional 28,178 shares in the last quarter. Raymond James Financial Services Advisors Inc. increased its position in shares of Principal Financial Group by 27.5% during the fourth quarter. Raymond James Financial Services Advisors Inc. now owns 50,403 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $3,557,000 after acquiring an additional 10,863 shares in the last quarter. Tower Research Capital LLC TRC bought a new stake in shares of Principal Financial Group during the fourth quarter worth $174,000. Virtu Financial LLC bought a new stake in shares of Principal Financial Group during the fourth quarter worth $350,000. Finally, American International Group Inc. increased its position in shares of Principal Financial Group by 9.4% during the fourth quarter. American International Group Inc. now owns 110,685 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $7,810,000 after acquiring an additional 9,555 shares in the last quarter. 68.64% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

About Principal Financial Group

Principal Financial Group, Inc provides retirement, asset management, and insurance products and services to businesses, individuals, and institutional clients worldwide. It operates through Retirement and Income Solutions, Principal Global Investors, Principal International, and U.S. Insurance Solutions segments.

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