On Jan 21, 2014, shares of Protective Life Corp. ( PL) hit a 52-week high of $53.08. The momentum was driven by strong operating performance at the company in the first nine months of 2013.
During this period, Protective Life exhibited solid results in its retail business lines by achieving life sales above its plan, variable annuity sales within its plan and growing Asset protection sales, along with strong operating results for all three quarters of the year. The company posted positive earnings surprises in two of the last three reported quarters.
In addition, the recently closed acquisition of MONY Life Insurance Company will also aid the compan's 2013 earnings by 10 to 15 cents per share. The acquisition will expand Protective Life’s life insurance portfolio and enhance its market share.
A gradually recovering economy and an increasing interest rate environment also bodes well for the company’s investment income which had been underperforming in the recent past.
Moreover, this Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) life insurer boasts of solid asset quality, overall sound capital position, liquidity and financial flexibility, and robust enterprise risk management which induces credit rating agencies to give it a strong credit score.
Protective Life also outperformed the one-year S&P 500, which posted an increase of 24.1% against a return of 69.7% clocked by the company.
The company is scheduled to report its fourth-quarter and full year earnings on Feb 11, 2014. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for fourth quarter earning of $1.12 per share reflects year-over-year growth of 14.1%. Earnings for the full year are expected at $3.95 per share, which translates into year-over-year growth of 4.4%.
Other Stocks to Consider
Other life insurer worth considering include Primerica Inc. ( PRI), China Life Insurance Co. Ltd. ( LFC) and Lincoln National Corp. ( LNC). While Primerica sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) China Life and Lincoln shares the same Zacks Rank as Protective Life.