UPDATE: Goldman Sachs Downgrades StanCorp, Notes Near-Term Risk
In a report published Monday, Goldman Sachs analyst Christopher Giovanni downgraded StanCorp Financial Group (NYSE: SFG) from Neutral to Sell on near-term risk.
Giovanni noted Stancorp's six straight quarters of positive EPS surprises. Goldman Sachs continues to expect a continuation in positive momentum, but remarked that “the stock currently screens as the most expensive on PE and a notable outlier on PB-to-ROE regression. We also we think investors underappreciate the seasonal weakness we have historically seen in shares, which poses some near-term risk.”
The analyst reported that he sees long-term opportunities with growth from wages and payroll inflation. Goldman Sachs expects the industry to generate modest premium growth in 2014. Giovanni added, “a quicker recovery in payrolls and/or wages, particularly in the education and government sectors where SFG has outsized exposure, could make us more constructive on SFG shares.”
Goldman Sachs EPS estimate is below consensus for 1Q at $1.16 versus $1.23, and in 2Q at $1.17 versus $1.27. Giovanni raised their 2015 estimated EPS from $5.55 to $5.60 and introduced a 2016 estimate of $5.95.
Shares of StanCorp closed at $64.25 on Friday and are currently down 2.77% at $62.47.
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