MetLife Buys Back Its Stock; Should You Now Buy MetLife?

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Timing is everything, and right now may be the right time to add MetLife (MET) to your portfolio.

The insurer's stock is cheap. It currently trades around $54.75, up 2% for the year to date. It has a 2014 price-to-earnings ratio of 9.6 and a price-to-book value of 1.0, making it one of the cheapest stocks in the S&P 500 (SPY), the exchange-traded fund proxy for the S&P 500.

The insurance company also has a 2.55% dividend yield, offers global reach, a diverse product line and sound management. MetLife even announced a $1 billion share buyback program. The last time MetLife repurchased shares was in 2008, the year the financial crisis started.

In addition, this week the U.S. Senate passed legislation that would give regulators more flexibility in how they apply capital standards to insurers. It now needs approval in the House of Representatives.

If signed into law by President Obama, the new law would place high capital standards on entities deemed non-bank systemically important financial institutions, or SIFIs. MetLife has not been designated a SIFI but competitor Prudential (PRU) has been.

The Federal Reserve is in the process of working out how to apply capital standards to help financial institutions withstand future economic meltdowns. According to a MetLife statement when it announced the buyback Tuesday, "We anticipated that the non-bank SIFI capital rules would be known by now, but recent statements by the Federal Reserve suggest that we may not see draft rules until 2015."

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