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Should You Retain Sun Life Financial (SLF) in Your Portfolio?

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Sun Life Financial (SLF - Free Report) has been gaining momentum, given its strategic acquisitions, higher real estate valuations, solid Asia business and sturdy financial position.

Growth Projections

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2022 and 2023 earnings per share is pegged at $5.02 and $5.63, respectively, indicating a year-over-year increase of 4.3% and 12.1%, respectively. The expected long-term earnings growth rate is pegged at 9%.

Earnings Surprise History

Sun Life has a decent earnings surprise history. Its bottom-line beat estimates in three of the last four quarters and missed in one, the average being 3.11%.

Zacks Rank & Price Performance

Sun Life currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). In the past year, the stock has rallied 2.9% against the industry’s decrease of 16.4%.

Zacks Investment Research
Image Source: Zacks Investment Research

Return on Equity

Sun Life’s return on equity for the trailing 12 months is 14%, better than the industry average of 11.4%. This reflects its efficiency in utilizing its shareholders’ funds. 

Business Tailwinds

Sun Life remains well poised for growth in 2022, riding on premier asset management franchises at MFS and SLC Management and leading wealth and insurance market positions in Canada. Also, the shift toward more capital-light businesses in the United States as well as an established presence in attractive markets in Asia should benefit the insurer in the long run.

Asia sales are expected to gain from growth in mutual fund sales in India, money market sales in the Philippines and the Hong Kong pension business.

The Canada business is likely to gain from higher real estate valuations, equity market growth, strong expected profit growth and favorable expense experience. Higher individual participating life insurance sales, and higher large case group benefits sales in Sun Life Health should benefit Insurance sales.

Sun Life increased strategic investment in Bowtie Life Insurance Company in 2021, where Bowtie’s funding is projected to be used to boost operations and expand across Asia.

SLF remains focused on capital management with over 10 strategic transactions in 2021, including the acquisition of Pinnacle Care, the IPO of India Asset Management Joint Venture as well as its intention to buy DentaQuest. The life-insurer looks to make further investments in building new business models as well as advancing leading digital capabilities.

The insurer’s capital position remains strong with Life Insurance Capital Adequacy Test (LICAT) ratios of 145% at SLF and 124% at SLA. The financial leverage ratio increased to 25.5% and cash at the holding company increased to $4.7 billion, both of which indicate the $2 billion subordinated debt offering.

The life insurer has increased dividend at an eight-year (2015-2022) CAGR of 4.7% and currently yields 3.9%, making the stock an attractive pick for yield-seeking investors. Sun Life targets an underlying dividend payout ratio between 40% and 50% based on underlying earnings per share.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2023 has moved 1.2% north in the past 60 days, reflecting analysts’ optimism.

Stocks to Consider

Some better-ranked insurers include Kinsale Capital Group (KNSL - Free Report) , United Fire Group (UFCS - Free Report) and Cincinnati Financial (CINF - Free Report) , each sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Kinsale Capital’s earnings surpassed estimates in each of the last four quarters, the average beat being 32.04%. In the past year, Kinsale Capital has rallied 18.9%.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for KNSL’s 2022 and 2023 earnings has moved 3.8% and 3.5% north, respectively, in the past seven days.

United Fire’s earnings surpassed estimates in each of the last four quarters, the average earnings surprise being 275.45%. In the past year, United Fire has declined 20.5%.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for UFCS’ 2022 and 2023 earnings has moved 122.2% and 76.9% north, respectively, in the past 30 days.

The bottom line of Cincinnati Financial surpassed earnings estimates in each of the last four quarters, the average being 38.48%. In the past year, the insurer has rallied 11.7%.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Cincinnati Financial’s 2022 and 2023 earnings has moved 5.7% and 5.5% north, respectively, in the past 30 days.