NEW YORK (
analyst Christopher Giovanni upgraded U.S. large-cap life insurers to neutral from cautious.
Giovanni said life insurers are positioned for growth in the cyclical retirement market and capital allocation is driving "significant outperformance" in the space.
In particular, Giovanni recommended
as a buy because he believes that new regulation will lead to industry consolidation and Principal is likely to come out on top. He added "share repurchases to begin in 2011, augmenting EPS growth."
Giovanni also upgraded
from sell to neutral because management changes and growth opportunities should help boost results in the second half of the year.
--Written by Maria Woehr in New York.
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