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Unum Group (UNM - Analyst Report) is set to report fourth-quarter 2013 results on Feb 4. Last quarter, the company posted a positive 3.66% earnings surprise. Let’s see how things are shaping up for this announcement.

Growth Factors this Past Quarter

Disciplined pricing, underwriting and risk results across its primary business segments are expected to drive the quarterly results at Unum Group. Conservative pricing and reservation practices should widen Unum’s profit margin.

A lower share count due to share buybacks is also expected to boost the bottom line.

Due to reinsurance agreements effective Jan 2013, Unum U.K. is set to cede a portion of its group life business to other insurance companies. The reinsurance agreements are expected to continue to put pressure on group life premium income and benefit payments, weighing on its operating income.

A soft interest rate environment might continue to weigh on investment results.

Earnings Whispers?

Our proven model does not conclusively show that Unum Group is likely to beat earnings this quarter. That is because a stock needs to have both a positive Earnings ESP and a Zacks Rank #1, 2 or 3 for this to happen. That is not the case here as you will see below.

Zacks ESP:  That is because the Most Accurate estimate stands at 83 cents while the Zacks Consensus Estimate is higher at 84 cents. That leads to an earnings ESP of -1.19%.

Zacks Rank: Unum Group’s Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) when combined with a negative ESP makes surprise prediction difficult. We caution against stocks with a Zacks Ranks #4 and 5 (Sell-rated stocks) going into the earnings announcement, especially when the company is seeing negative estimate revisions momentum.

Stocks to Consider

Here are some companies you may want to consider as our model shows they have the right combination of elements to post an earnings beat this quarter:  

Aspen Insurance Holdings Ltd. (AHL - Snapshot Report), earnings ESP of +3.57% and a Zacks Rank #3.

ProAssurance Corporation (PRA - Analyst Report), earnings ESP of +13.59% and a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

Platinum Underwriters Holdings Ltd. (PRE - Analyst Report), earnings ESP of +3.10% and a Zacks Rank #3.

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