After the Close: CR Bard Beats Earnings, AFLAC Misses But Guides Higher for 2013

The S&P 500 just closed out its best January in 15 years. The 55-point gain was the largest for January on record.

After the bell today, we had two more earnings reports. CR Bard ($BCR) reported fourth-quarter earnings of $1.70 per share which was two cents better than expectations.

Revenues rose 4.9% to $751.9 million. For the year, Bard earned $6.40 per share. That’s a 14% increase over the $5.60 Bard earned in 2010. Based on today’s close, Bard is going for 14.45 times trailing earnings.

Timothy M. Ring, chairman and chief executive officer, commented, “Fourth quarter constant currency net sales growth of 5% was at the top end of our guidance and allowed us to exceed adjusted EPS guidance for the quarter and for the year. Our revenue growth is being driven by a combination of geographic investments, external acquisitions and internal research and development. By combining top-line growth with disciplined expense management and share-repurchase programs, we have been able to meet our short-term commitments to shareholders while positioning the company for healthy long-term growth.”

AFLAC ($AFL) reported fourth-quarter operating earnings of $1.48 per share which was four cents below expectations. Three months ago, AFLAC said it expected to earn $1.45 to $1.52 per share for the fourth quarter. This is a slight disappointment to me because I had been expecting AFLAC to beat expectations by a few pennies per share.

AFLAC reiterated their earnings forecast for this year of growth of 2% to 5%. For the year, AFLAC had operating earnings of $6.33 per share. That means the company sees earnings for 2012 ranging between $6.46 per share and $6.65 per share.

The best news, however, is that AFLAC said it expects the rate of earnings growth in 2013 to exceed that of 2012. That’s excellent news. If we take the mid-point of AFLAC’s range for this year’s growth (3.5%) and assume 4% growth for 2013, that translates to earnings of $6.81 per share.

Daniel P. Amos stated: “Aflac had another strong year. Growth of operating earnings per diluted share was in line with our goal of an 8% increase before the impact of foreign currency. That result was also consistent with guidance we provided when we released third quarter results. We had conveyed in the third quarter that following nine months of restrained expenditures, we planned to increase spending on IT and marketing initiatives in the fourth quarter to strengthen our business, and that’s exactly what we did. I am pleased that 2011 marked the 22nd consecutive year in which we achieved our earnings objective.

“Aflac Japan gets high marks for another great quarter and year. The tremendous sales momentum they generated this quarter, largely propelled by success in selling through banks, significantly exceeded our expectations for the year and especially for the quarter. In fact, Aflac Japan’s fourth quarter production set an all-time quarterly record, which is especially remarkable considering 2011 was the year Japan was hit with the most devastating natural disaster in its history.

“We are also pleased with Aflac U.S. results for the quarter and year. It has been, and continues to be, the longstanding goal and vision of Aflac U.S. to be the leading provider of voluntary insurance in the United States, and our sales results in 2011 build on that vision. Through our efforts, we continue to expand Aflac’s potential to connect with employees at more companies, large and small, across the United States.

The 2009 addition of group products to our existing portfolio has allowed us to leverage our strong brand and provide more options for customers of both our traditional and broker distribution channels. In 2011, product marketing efforts geared toward existing accounts contributed to strong sales for our veteran agents. Additionally, you’ll recall that we have been establishing and developing relationships with brokers that handle the larger-case market. While this broker initiative is still in its infancy, we are excited about the opportunity this channel presents for future growth.

“The strength of our capital ratios demonstrates our commitment to maintain financial strength on behalf of our policyholders and bondholders. As we have communicated over the past several years, sustaining a strong risk-based capital, or RBC ratio, remains a priority for us. We had conveyed that our goal was to end 2011 with an RBC ratio in the range of 400% to 500% with a target of 450%. Although we have not yet finalized our statutory financial statements, we estimate our 2011 RBC ratio will be between 480% and 520%. Additionally, we are comfortable with our solvency margin ratio and continue to apply rigorous stress testing under extreme scenarios.

“As we look ahead to 2012 sales opportunities in the United States, we expect Aflac U.S. sales to increase 3% to 8%. Following Aflac Japan’s outstanding sales growth of 18.6% last year, I think it’s reasonable to expect Aflac Japan sales will decrease within the range of down 2% to down 5% for the year.

Looking ahead, I want to reiterate that our objective for 2012 is to increase operating earnings per diluted share 2% to 5% on a currency neutral basis. This range reflects the impact of portfolio derisking and investing significant cash flows at low interest rates. We expect the rate of earnings growth in 2013 to improve over 2012.”

Posted by on January 31st, 2012 at 6:09 pm

The information in this blog post represents my own opinions and does not contain a recommendation for any particular security or investment. I or my affiliates may hold positions or other interests in securities mentioned in the Blog, please see my Disclaimer page for my full disclaimer.

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