Despite the increase in earnings, PRU shares are mostly flat in pre-market trading, and the firm’s valuation has gotten slightly cheaper. Before reporting earnings, its TTM P/E ratio was 10.02; after its recent quarter, its P/E ratio has fallen to 9.72 since shares have not risen in price.
Prudential’s valuation has gotten pricier in recent months thanks to a recovery from its 52-week low, which the stock reached in February. Since then, shares have risen 46.9% to their current levels and are up 2.9% year-to-date. The stock’s dividend has also fallen to 3.3% from 4.3% earlier this year.
Prudential’s management emphasized strong cash flows, conservative capital utilization and restructuring efforts as primary drivers of the firm’s earnings growth. “While we continue to face macro environment challenges in both our U.S. and international operations, we remain confident in our ability to deliver solid performance and differentiated returns,” said CEO John Strangfeld in a statement.
While strong business operations drove earnings higher, EPS was also boosted by share buybacks throughout the quarter. Total shares outstanding fell 3.3% to 435.9 million on a year-over-year basis in the third quarter. In total, Prudential spent $930 million on dividends and buybacks in the quarter.
Third quarter’s strong earnings growth runs counter to Prudential’s results from the first half of 2016. The firm earned $4.08 billion in net income attributable to shareholders in the first nine months of 2016, a decline of 16.8% from the prior year.
Part of the firm’s declines are due to lower individual life insurance sales, which fell 9% year-over-year in the third quarter and have been a smaller part of the firm’s total operations over several quarters. Asset under management rose 16% year-over-year to $1.1 trillion. Retirement account values also rose 6% year-over-year in the third quarter.
“We are pleased with our solid core results and continued business momentum, including the steady sales growth delivered by our international businesses and strong net flows in retirement and asset management,” said Strangfeld.