Analysts pleased with Met's quarter; word from D.C. is awaited

"Low rates and regulatory uncertainty present risks, but the risk-reward seems attractive given potential for ROE expansion, MetLife's (MET -0.5%) improving risk profile, and attractive valuation," says JPMorgan's Jimmy Bhullar, following last night's earnings report. He rates the stock at Overweight with $58 price target.

KBW's Jeffrey Schuman - who also has an Outperform, but with $64 price target - calculates core Q4 EPS at $1.40 (vs. $1.37 reported).

Credit Suisse's Tom Gallagher - who also rates the shares Outperform and with $59 price target - is pleased with Met's international results given the mixed reports from Prudential and Principal Financial earlier this earnings season." Looking ahead to Q1, we still think our $1.41 estimate looks good as we expect higher earnings from Corporate Benefit Funding from higher spread income to offset our expectation for some near-term follow-through softness in annuities and Group Benefits, both likely subdued by quarter to date equity markets and adverse seasonal mortality."

The company nearly doubled its quarterly dividend last year, but so far no buybacks while word is awaited from D.C. "We are not repurchasing shares at this time because we want to avoid the potential need to issue equity if there is an adverse regulatory outcome," says CEO Steve Kandarian on the earnings call.

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