Value investing is easily one of the most popular ways to find great stocks in any market environment. After all, who wouldn’t want to find stocks that are either flying under the radar and are compelling buys, or offer up tantalizing discounts when compared to fair value?
One way to find these companies is by looking at several key metrics and financial ratios, many of which are crucial in the value stock selection process. Let’s put Aflac Incorporated (AFL - Free Report) stock into this equation and find out if it is a good choice for value-oriented investors right now, or if investors subscribing to this methodology should look elsewhere for top picks:
A key metric that value investors always look at is the Price to Earnings Ratio, or PE for short. This shows us how much investors are willing to pay for each dollar of earnings in a given stock, and is easily one of the most popular financial ratios in the world. The best use of the PE ratio is to compare the stock’s current PE ratio with: a) where this ratio has been in the past; b) how it compares to the average for the industry/sector; and c) how it compares to the market as a whole.
On this front, Aflac Incorporated has a trailing twelve months PE ratio of 12.26, as you can see in the chart below:
This level actually compares quite favorably with the market at large, as the PE for the S&P 500 stands at about 19.35. However, if we focus on the long-term PE trend, Aflac Incorporated’s current PE level puts it above its midpoint of 11.13 over the past five years.
The stock’s PE also compares quite favorably with the Finance Market’s trailing twelve months PE ratio, which stands at 14.27. This indicates that the stock is undervalued right now, compared to its peers.
Meanwhile Aflac Incorporated has a forward PE ratio (price relative to this year’s earnings) of 12.16, which is lower than the current level. So, so it is fair to say that a more value-oriented path is ahead of the stock in the near term.
Another key metric to note is the Price/Sales ratio. This approach compares a given stock’s price to its total sales, where a lower reading is generally considered better. Some people like this metric more than other value-focused ones because it looks at sales, something that is far harder to manipulate with accounting tricks than earnings.
Right now, Aflac Incorporated has a P/S ratio of 1.85. This is quite lower than the S&P 500 average, which comes in at 3.35x right now. Also, as we can see in the chart below, this is much below the highs for this stock in particular over the past few years.
Broad Value Outlook
In aggregate, Aflac Incorporated currently has a Value Score of B, putting it into the top 40% of all stocks we cover from this look. This makes Aflac Incorporated a solid choice for value investors.
What About the Stock Overall?
Though Aflac Incorporated might be a good choice for value investors, there are plenty of other factors to consider before investing in this name. In particular, it is worth noting that the company has a Growth Score of D and a Momentum Score of B. This gives AFL a Zacks VGM score — or its overarching fundamental grade — of B. (You can read more about the Zacks Style Scores here >>).
Meanwhile, the company’s recent earnings estimates have been mixed at best. While the current-quarter estimate has seen one upward and two downward movements, the current-year estimate has seen six upward and no downward movement over the past two months.
This has had a mixed effect on the consensus estimate. While the current-quarter consensus dropped 1% over the past two months, the current-year estimate has shot up 2.1%. You can see the consensus estimate trend and recent price action for the stock in the chart below:
Such mixed analyst sentiments is the reason why the stock has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) and why we are looking for in line performance from the company in the near term.
Aflac Incorporated is an inspired choice for value investors, as it is hard to beat its incredible lineup of statistics on this front. Despite a strong industry rank (among Top 5% of more than 250 industries), with a Zacks Rank #3, it is hard to get too excited about the stock.
Also, over the past two years, the broader industry has clearly underperformed the market at large, as you can see below:
So, value investors might want to wait for Zacks rank, analyst sentiments and past industry performance to turn around in this name first, but once that happens, this stock could be a compelling pick.
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