NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Symetra Financial Corporation (NYSE: SYA) has been upgraded by TheStreet Ratings from sell to hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, 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 disappointing return on equity, a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself and poor 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 13.4%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.
  • SYA's debt-to-equity ratio is very low at 0.14 and is currently below that of the industry average, implying that there has been very successful management of debt levels.
  • SYA's stock share price has done very poorly compared to where it was a year ago: Despite any rallies, the net result is that it is down by 28.25%, which is also worse that the performance of the S&P 500 Index. Investors have so far failed to pay much attention to the earnings improvements the company has managed to achieve over the last quarter. Naturally, the overall market trend is bound to be a significant factor. However, in one sense, the stock's sharp decline last year is a positive for future investors, making it cheaper (in proportion to its earnings over the past year) than most other stocks in its industry. But due to other concerns, we feel the stock is still not a good buy right now.
  • The company's current return on equity has slightly decreased from the same quarter one year prior. This implies a minor weakness in the organization. When compared to other companies in the Insurance industry and the overall market, SYMETRA FINANCIAL CORP's return on equity is below that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
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Symetra Financial Corporation, through its subsidiaries, provides group and individual insurance products and retirement products in the United States and the District of Columbia. The company has a P/E ratio of 7.1, above the average insurance industry P/E ratio of 6.9 and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Symetra Financial has a market cap of $1.12 billion and is part of the financial sector and insurance industry. Shares are up 11.5% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday.

You can view the full Symetra Financial Ratings Report or get investment ideas from our investment research center.
-- Written by a member of TheStreet RatingsStaff

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