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Aflac Inc (AFL): Today's Featured Insurance Laggard

Editor's Note: TheStreet ratings do not represent the views of TheStreet's staff or its contributors. Ratings are established by computer based on metrics for performance (which includes growth, stock performance, efficiency and valuation) and risk (volatility and solvency). Companies with poor cash flow or high debt levels tend to earn lower ratings in our model

Aflac (AFL) pushed the Insurance industry lower today making it today's featured Insurance laggard. The industry as a whole closed the day up 0.2%. By the end of trading, Aflac fell $0.90 (-1.6%) to $53.95 on average volume. Throughout the day, 4,481,885 shares of Aflac exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 3,538,000 shares. The stock ranged in price between $53.57-$54.80 after having opened the day at $54.77 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $54.85. Other companies within the Insurance industry that declined today were: American Independence Corporation (AMIC), down 6.0%, Kingsway Financial Services (KFS), down 4.2%, First Acceptance Corporation (FAC), down 3.7% and Homeowners Choice (HCI), down 2.5%.

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Aflac Incorporated, through its subsidiary, American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus, provides supplemental health and life insurance products. Aflac has a market cap of $26.1 billion and is part of the financial sector. The company has a P/E ratio of 8.8, below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 3.3% year to date as of the close of trading on Thursday. Currently there are 9 analysts that rate Aflac a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 10 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Aflac as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its solid stock price performance, growth in earnings per share, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, notable return on equity and attractive valuation levels. Although the company may harbor some minor weaknesses, we feel they are unlikely to have a significant impact on results.

On the positive front, Federated National (FNHC), down 13.4%, ING US (VOYA), down 4.4%, Maiden Holdings (MHLD), down 3.4% and Hilltop Holdings (HTH), down 3.3% , were all gainers within the insurance industry with Lincoln National Corp (Radnor (LNC) being today's featured insurance industry leader.

For investors not wanting singular stock exposure, ETFs may be of interest. Investors who are bullish on the insurance industry could consider KBW Insurance ETF (KIE) while those bearish on the insurance industry could consider Proshares Short Financials (SEF).

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