Credit Suisse: Time to Dump This Insurance Stock

BHF is testing a key level in today's trading

by Karee Venema

Published on Jun 25, 2019 at 10:14 AM

Brighthouse Financial Inc (NASDAQ:BHF) is down 8.7% at $38.12, after Credit Suisse downgraded the insurance issue to "underperform" from "neutral," and slashed its price target by $13 to a Street low $22. Analyst Andrew Kligerman said BHF stock looks expensive at current levels, and lower interest rates this year could negatively impact the company's distributable earnings through 2021 by $1 billion.

Most analysts are already skeptical of BHF stock, with 10 of 11 brokerages calling the shares a "hold" or worse. However, the average 12-month price target of $40.15 is a 12.6% premium to current trading levels, meaning more price-target cuts could come down the pike if the equity continues to struggle.

Meanwhile, Brighthouse Financial stock's options pits are typically quiet, with an average daily volume of just 365 contracts. Today, intraday activity is accelerated in early action, with call and put volume running at six times what's usually seen at this point. Speculators may be buying to open July 35 puts, betting on additional downside for BHF over the next several weeks. The last time BHF settled a week south of $35 was Jan. 11.

Looking closer at the charts, it's been a choppy year for Brighthouse Financial. The stock rallied all the way up to $44 in late February, after skimming the $28.50 level in late December. The shares quickly retreated from here, but found a floor near $35 in recent months. Today's gap has the equity breaching recent support at its 20-day moving average, and pacing for its lowest close since Jan. 15.

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