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Higher Interest Rates? 3 Insurance Stocks to Consider

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Eyes were heavily locked onto Jerome Powell’s speech today. The stock market has cheered on his comments, providing nice relief for investors.

Powell acknowledged the idea of smaller interest rate hikes potentially starting in December and reiterated that the Fed remains laser-focused on bringing inflation down.

Further, Powell said that the Fed is likely to need somewhat higher rates in 2023 than the initial projections in September provided.

While inflation obviously remains too high for the Fed’s liking, Powell’s relatively less-hawkish nature was a welcome sight by investors, boosting the major indices well into the green intraday.

With the Fed fully committed to bringing inflation down, stocks in the financial sector, such as insurers, may see their profit margins expand in higher interest-rate environments.

To back their policies, insurers primarily carry safe long-term bonds, allowing them to generate more money from their debt as interest rates rise.

Three insurers – Aflac (AFL - Free Report) , Unum Group (UNM - Free Report) , and Reinsurance Group of America (RGA - Free Report) – could all be considerations for investors during a higher interest-rate regime.

Below is a chart illustrating the year-to-date performance of all three stocks, with the S&P 500 blended in as a benchmark.

Zacks Investment Research
Image Source: Zacks Investment Research

As we can see, all three stocks reside well in the green year-to-date, becoming bright spots in an otherwise dim market. Let’s take a closer look at each one.

Aflac

Aflac is an American insurance company and a massive supplier of supplemental insurance within the U.S.

For those that seek income, Aflac has that covered; the company’s annual dividend currently yields 2.2%, just a tick below its Zacks Finance sector average of 2.3%.

Further, the company has shown a commitment to growing its dividend, upping its payout six times over the last five years, translating to a 10.8% five-year annualized dividend growth rate.

Zacks Investment Research
Image Source: Zacks Investment Research

Currently, AFL shares trade at a 13.5X forward earnings multiple, above the 11.2X five-year median but below its Zacks sector average.

Zacks Investment Research
Image Source: Zacks Investment Research

AFL carries a Value Style Score of a B.

Unum Group

Unum Group provides disability insurance, long-term care insurance, life insurance, and employee-paid group benefits and related services.

The company has witnessed positive earnings estimate revisions over the last several months, helping land the stock into a favorable Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

Zacks Investment Research
Image Source: Zacks Investment Research

Similar to AFL, Unum Group pays its investors handsomely; the company’s annual dividend currently yields 3.2% paired with a 6.3% five-year annualized dividend growth rate.

UNM pays out 23% of its earnings.

Zacks Investment Research
Image Source: Zacks Investment Research

Reinsurance Group of America

Reinsurance Group of America is a leading global provider of traditional life and health reinsurance and financial solutions with operations in the United States, Canada, Europe, and others.

RGA carries a loaded growth profile, with earnings forecasted to soar more than a quad-digit 1200% in its current fiscal year (FY22) and a further 3.4% in FY23.

The projected earnings growth comes on top of forecasted Y/Y revenue upticks of 3.8% in FY22 and 2.9% in FY23, indicating that margins are expanding quite notably.

Further, shares are relatively cheap; the company’s shares currently trade at a 9.5X forward P/E ratio, well beneath the 12.1X five-year median and Zacks Finance sector average.

Zacks Investment Research
Image Source: Zacks Investment Research

RGA has found success within its quarterly results as of late, exceeding the Zacks Consensus EPS estimate by at least 76% in its last three quarters.

Sales results paint a similarly positive story; RGA has exceeded sales expectations in eight consecutive quarters. Below is a chart illustrating the company’s revenue on a quarterly basis.

Zacks Investment Research
Image Source: Zacks Investment Research

Bottom Line

A somewhat less-hawkish stance from the Fed gave stocks a significant boost in today’s session.

Of course, it’s essential to know that the Fed is still fully committed to bringing inflation down, but the talk of potentially slower-paced rate hikes was a welcome sight by investors.

During higher interest rate environments, companies such as – Aflac (AFL - Free Report) , Unum Group (UNM - Free Report) , and Reinsurance Group of America (RGA - Free Report) – can see their profit margins expand.

Additionally, the Zacks Finance sector is currently ranked #1 out of all 16 Zacks sectors, telling us that stocks within have been witnessing favorable earnings estimate revisions.

After all, since a sector is nothing more than a group of stocks in a similar business, utilizing the Zacks Sector Rank is the perfect way to see which areas currently look more promising than others.


In-Depth Zacks Research for the Tickers Above


Normally $25 each - click below to receive one report FREE:


Aflac Incorporated (AFL) - free report >>

Unum Group (UNM) - free report >>

Reinsurance Group of America, Incorporated (RGA) - free report >>

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