Marsh & McLennan (MMC) Stock Coverage Initiated at Piper Jaffray

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- March & McLennan Cos.  (MMC) stock coverage was initiated by analysts at Piper Jaffray with an "overweight" rating and a price target of $67.

"MMC has demonstrated some of the strongest and most consistent EPS results within the group over the last five years driven largely through improvement in core pre-tax operating earnings," analysts said.

Since the beginning of 2014, the company has increased capital deployment through a diversified approach on buyback, dividend and M&A, analysts noted.

The New York-based company provides advice and solutions primarily in the areas of risk, strategy, and people worldwide.

Its shares closed down today by 1.21% to $57.89.

Separately, TheStreet Ratings team rates MARSH & MCLENNAN COS as a Buy with a ratings score of A+. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate MARSH & MCLENNAN COS (MMC) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its growth in earnings per share, increase in net income, notable return on equity, solid stock price performance and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company is trading at a premium valuation based on our review of its current price compared to such things as earnings and book value."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • MARSH & MCLENNAN COS has improved earnings per share by 11.3% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, MARSH & MCLENNAN COS increased its bottom line by earning $2.60 versus $2.41 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($3.05 versus $2.60).
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has greatly exceeded that of the S&P 500, but is less than that of the Insurance industry average. The net income increased by 8.8% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $443.00 million to $482.00 million.
  • The return on equity has improved slightly when compared to the same quarter one year prior. This can be construed as a modest strength in the organization. In comparison to the other companies in the Insurance industry and the overall market, MARSH & MCLENNAN COS's return on equity significantly exceeds that of the industry average and is above that of the S&P 500.
  • The stock has not only risen over the past year, it has done so at a faster pace than the S&P 500, reflecting the earnings growth and other positive factors similar to those we have cited here. Looking ahead, the stock's rise over the last year has already helped drive it to a level which is relatively expensive compared to the rest of its industry. We feel, however, that the other strengths this company displays justify these higher price levels.
  • Despite currently having a low debt-to-equity ratio of 0.57, it is higher than that of the industry average, inferring that management of debt levels may need to be evaluated further. Despite the fact that MMC's debt-to-equity ratio is mixed in its results, the company's quick ratio of 1.63 is high and demonstrates strong liquidity.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: MMC Ratings Report

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