Insights

Why Unum Stock Is More Than 14% Higher Today

What happened

Shares of insurance company Unum Group (NYSE: UNM) are up 14.2% as of 12:51 p.m. ET on Wednesday. The surge follows yesterday’s post-close release of second-quarter results that topped analyst estimates, underscored by encouraging guidance for the remainder of the year.

So what

For the three-month stretch ending in June, Unum Group turned a little over $3 billion worth of revenue into an adjusted operating profit of $1.91 per share. Although the top line was up only slightly on a year-over-year basis, earnings more than doubled versus the year-earlier per-share profit of $0.89. And both revenue and earnings beat estimates of a little less than $3 billion and $1.22 per share, respectively.

Unum’s report differs from a handful of earnings reports already tendered by other insurance outfits. Assurant shares are down more than 9% on Wednesday, for instance, after the company posted sales and profit figures that both fell short of estimates. Markel also missed its Q2 earnings estimates, sending the stock down more than 4% today.

Bolstering Wednesday’s bullish take on Unum shares is the company’s updated full-year profit outlook. Previously looking for operating income growth of between 15% and 20% compared with 2021’s figure, the insurer upped its profit growth expectation to somewhere between 40% and 45% above last year’s operating earnings.

Now what

Today’s surge rekindles a rally that’s been underway since the stock’s early 2020 low linked to COVID-19’s worldwide spread. Shares have been sliding lower since early June, but with Wednesday’s gains are now back within sight of June’s new 52-week highs. The sheer size of the gain, however, makes more immediate gains feel a little less likely.

For patient investors that can wait for a pullback — or at least wait for today’s dust to settle — there’s still plenty of upside opportunity here, though. Even with the recent gains, Unum’s stock is only valued at 6.9 times this year’s expected profits, and a mere 6.2 times next year’s estimated per-share earnings. That’s cheap, even by insurance stock standards in the current high-inflation, rising-rate environment.

James Brumley has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Markel. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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