NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Protective Life (NYSE: PL) has been upgraded by TheStreet Ratings from hold to buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, increase in net income, attractive valuation levels, good cash flow from operations and growth in earnings per share. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows low profit margins.

Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 7.0%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 16.7%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has exceeded that of the S&P 500 and greatly outperformed compared to the Insurance industry average. The net income increased by 25.8% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $70.45 million to $88.61 million.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 1469.99% to $254.59 million when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, PROTECTIVE LIFE CORP has also vastly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of -13.95%.
  • PROTECTIVE LIFE CORP has improved earnings per share by 28.8% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. But, we feel it is poised for EPS growth in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, PROTECTIVE LIFE CORP reported lower earnings of $2.97 versus $3.29 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($3.47 versus $2.97).

Protective Life Corporation and its subsidiaries engage in the production, distribution, and administration of insurance and investment products in the United States. It operates in five segments: Life Marketing, Acquisitions, Annuities, Stable Value Products, and Asset Protection. The company has a P/E ratio of 5.7, equal to the average insurance industry P/E ratio and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Protective Life has a market cap of $1.8 billion and is part of the financial sector and insurance industry. Shares are down 19.1% year to date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

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