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 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 12.69, as you can see in the chart below:
This level actually compares favorably with the market at large, as the PE for the S&P 500 stands at about 17.58. If we focus on the long-term PE trend, Aflac Incorporated’ current PE level puts it above its midpoint of 10.91 over the past five years, with the number having risen rapidly over the past few months. However, the current level stands below the highs for the stock, suggesting that it can be a solid entry point.
However, the stock’s PE also compares favorably with the Zacks Finance Market sector’s trailing twelve months PE ratio, which stands at 14.09. At the very least, this indicates that the stock is relatively undervalued right now, compared to its peers.
We should also point out that Aflac Incorporated has a forward PE ratio (price relative to this year’s earnings) of 12.51, so it is fair to say that a slightly more value-oriented path may be ahead for Aflac Incorporated’s stock in the near term too.
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 about 1.85. This is much lower than the S&P 500 average, which comes in at 3.16 right now. Also, as we can see in the chart below, this is well 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.
For example, its P/CF ratio (another great indicator of value) comes in at 9.15, which is marginally better than the industry average of 9.16. Clearly, AFL is a solid choice on the value front from multiple angles.
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 Momentum Score of D. This gives AFL a Zacks VGM score — or its overarching fundamental grade — of C. (You can read more about the Zacks Style Scores here >>)
Meanwhile, the company’s recent earnings estimates have been encouraging. The current year has seen five upward revisions compared to none downward in the past sixty days, whereas the next year estimate has seen three upward revisions compared to none downward revision in the same time period.
As a result, the current year consensus estimate increased 1.90% in the past two months, whereas the next year estimate rose 1.13%. You can see the consensus estimate trend and recent price action for the stock in the chart below:
Aflac Incorporated Price and Consensus
Aflac Incorporated price-consensus-chart | Aflac Incorporated Quote
Notably, the stock with a long-term EPS growth rate of 3.4% and favorable estimate trends has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy), which is why we are looking for outperformance 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. Furthermore, the Zacks Rank #2 company flaunts a robust industry rank (among the top 6%), which indicates that the broader factors are favorable for the company.
So, value investors might want to delve deeper in this stock as it appears to be a compelling pick.
More Stock News: This Is Bigger than the iPhone!
It could become the mother of all technological revolutions. Apple sold a mere 1 billion iPhones in 10 years but a new breakthrough is expected to generate more than 27 billion devices in just 3 years, creating a $1.7 trillion market.
Zacks has just released a Special Report that spotlights this fast-emerging phenomenon and 6 tickers for taking advantage of it. If you don't buy now, you may kick yourself in 2020.
Click here for the 6 trades >>
Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report
Aflac Incorporated (AFL) : Free Stock Analysis Report
To read this article on Zacks.com click here.
Zacks Investment Research