Filed Under: ,
Tickers in this Article: AFL, AIZ, SFG, VLO, WMT, AXP
If you type any of the words "annoying", "worst" or "terrible" into your internet search bar combined with the phrase "corporate mascot", you're bound to run into Aflac's (NYSE:AFL) ubiquitous quacking duck. The little white duck with the one-word vocabulary is a fixture in virtually every top-10 list of most annoying commercial characters. Some might see this as a bad sign, but there is no denying that Aflac has managed to parlay a simple and cheap concept into some serious name recognition.

Now Aflac has decided to increase its visibility by attaching its name to America's fastest growing sport, NASCAR.

Aflac's Push into NASCAR
Aflac's NASCAR driver Carl Edwards is among the point leaders for the 2008 racing season. His performance on the track is reminiscent of the company's persistent push to become the primary provider of financial security for its policyholders. As a dominant provider of life insurance products Aflac's focus on advertising in the U.S. and its strong presence in Japan make it an insurer worthy of investors' attention.

Aflac has crashed its way into Nascar over the past 18 months. It began by sponsoring eight races in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series and Busch Series last year and followed up in May 2008 by becoming the exclusive supplemental insurance partner of NASCAR through 2010. If nothing else, Aflac has guaranteed that millions of the country's racing fans will be unable to escape hearing and seeing the Aflac name at upcoming races. In addition to NASCAR other large U.S.-based Aflac customers include Valero Energy (NYSE:VLO), American Express (NYSE:AXP) and Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT).

The Benefits of International Exposure
Aflac revenues increased more than 15% for the second quarter to $4.3 billion over the same period a year ago. Aflac's U.S. revenues totaled $1.2 billion representing less than one-third of Aflac's revenue during the quarter. Translation exposure, a stronger Japanese yen versus the sluggish U.S. dollar, helped to boost revenue. Aflac notes that it uses an average conversion rate when reporting yen denominated revenue, so investors should not necessarily rely on Japanese revenue as a pure sign of business growth. (For more on the effects of exchange rates, see Taking Advantage Of A Weak U.S. Dollar.)

Aflac has a PEG ratio below 1 at 0.95 and a low price-to-sales (P/S) ratio of 1.70. Value investors often seek out companies with a PEG ratio below 1 as a sign of an undervalued stock. PEG is a ratio used to determine the expected growth over the next five years in relation to its earnings. The P/S ratio is another way for investors to evaluate how much their paying for a stock in relation to revenues generated by the company. For both valuation ratios lower numbers generally equate to more attractive investment options.

Other accident and health insurers with equally low PEG ratios include Assurant Inc. (NYSE:AIZ) with 0.82 and StanCorp Financial Group (NYSE:SFG) with 0.86. (For a detailed explanation of value investing, check out Stock-Picking Strategies: Value Investing.)

Final Thoughts
Insurance typically comes to the front of people's minds once they really need it. Aflac is working to be the insurer customers turn to before unforeseen life events take place. With its memorable white duck quacking away in television commercials and its popularity as a trusted insurer in Japan, Aflac's focus on protecting its customers is unlikely to go unnoticed.

comments powered by Disqus

Trading Center