Earlier this week, Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. (HIG - Analyst Report) completed the previously announced public offering of 4.3% senior notes worth $300 million, due in 2043. The issue is a part of the company’s capital management plan.
The notes were assigned a “bbb+” debt rating by rating agency A.M. Best Co., with a stable outlook. The rating agency also revealed that Hartford Financial’s financial leverage and interest coverage ratios meet the criteria for the assigned ratings following the recent debt repayment and this debt issue. Moreover, A.M. Best did not alter any financial strength, issuer credit and debt ratings of the company following the notes issue.
Hartford Financial announced a capital management plan on Feb 4, 2013, aimed at boosting financial flexibility by reducing debt and returning more value to shareholders through share repurchase. The company plans to reduce its outstanding debt by $1 billion, including repayment of debt worth $520 million, which is due in 2013 and 2014.
Accordingly, Hartford Financial has already completed a cash tender offer for repayment of senior notes worth $800 million at a premium value of $1 billion. Further, the company plans to repurchase shares worth $500 million by the end of 2013.
The debt repayment and new issue are aimed at improving the financial leverage of Hartford Financial, along with reducing its interest expense.
Hartford Financial presently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Other stocks in the insurance sector that are worth a look are CNO Financial Group Inc. (CNO - Analyst Report) – Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Eastern Insurance Holdings Inc. – Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) and FBL Financial Group Inc. (FFG - Snapshot Report) – Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).