NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Sun Life Financial Inc (NYSE: SLF) has been downgraded by TheStreet Ratings from buy to hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its compelling growth in net income, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and attractive valuation levels. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself and poor profit margins.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The company, on the basis of net income growth from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly outperformed against the S&P 500 and exceeded that of the Insurance industry average. The net income increased by 83.8% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $235.00 million to $432.00 million.
  • SLF's debt-to-equity ratio is very low at 0.30 and is currently below that of the industry average, implying that there has been very successful management of debt levels.
  • Current return on equity exceeded its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a clear sign of strength within the company. Compared to other companies in the Insurance industry and the overall market on the basis of return on equity, SUN LIFE FINANCIAL INC has outperformed in comparison with the industry average, but has underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500.
  • The gross profit margin for SUN LIFE FINANCIAL INC is currently extremely low, coming in at 11.90%. Regardless of SLF's low profit margin, it has managed to increase from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of 8.40% trails the industry average.
  • SLF has underperformed the S&P 500 Index, declining 9.47% from its price level of one year ago. The fact that the stock is now selling for less than others in its industry in relation to its current earnings is not reason enough to justify a buy rating at this time.

Sun Life Financial Inc., together with its subsidiaries, provides various life and health insurance, savings, investment management, retirement, and pension products and services to individuals and corporate customers. The company has a P/E ratio of 6.7, below the average insurance industry P/E ratio of 7.3 and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Sun Life Financial has a market cap of $13.5 billion and is part of the financial sector and insurance industry. Shares are down 21.2% year to date as of the close of trading on Tuesday.

You can view the full Sun Life Financial Ratings Report or get investment ideas from our investment research center.
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