Metlife (NYSE:MET) and China Life Insurance (NYSE:LFC) are both large-cap finance companies, but which is the superior investment? We will contrast the two businesses based on the strength of their valuation, analyst recommendations, institutional ownership, earnings, dividends, profitability and risk.

Dividends

Metlife pays an annual dividend of $1.76 per share and has a dividend yield of 3.7%. China Life Insurance pays an annual dividend of $0.08 per share and has a dividend yield of 0.6%. Metlife pays out 32.7% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. China Life Insurance pays out 28.6% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. Both companies have healthy payout ratios and should be able to cover their dividend payments with earnings for the next several years. Metlife has increased its dividend for 6 consecutive years. Metlife is clearly the better dividend stock, given its higher yield and longer track record of dividend growth.

Insider & Institutional Ownership

75.6% of Metlife shares are owned by institutional investors. Comparatively, 0.3% of China Life Insurance shares are owned by institutional investors. 0.3% of Metlife shares are owned by insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that large money managers, endowments and hedge funds believe a stock is poised for long-term growth.

Analyst Ratings

This is a breakdown of current recommendations and price targets for Metlife and China Life Insurance, as reported by MarketBeat.com.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Metlife 1 4 5 0 2.40
China Life Insurance 0 4 4 0 2.50

Metlife presently has a consensus target price of $49.56, suggesting a potential upside of 3.32%. Given Metlife’s higher possible upside, equities analysts plainly believe Metlife is more favorable than China Life Insurance.

Volatility & Risk

Metlife has a beta of 1.11, meaning that its share price is 11% more volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, China Life Insurance has a beta of 1.55, meaning that its share price is 55% more volatile than the S&P 500.

Profitability

This table compares Metlife and China Life Insurance’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Metlife 9.28% 9.75% 0.78%
China Life Insurance 4.91% 9.31% 0.99%

Earnings and Valuation

This table compares Metlife and China Life Insurance’s gross revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio Net Income Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Metlife $67.94 billion 0.66 $5.12 billion $5.39 8.90
China Life Insurance $91.03 billion 0.77 $1.72 billion $0.28 44.46

Metlife has higher earnings, but lower revenue than China Life Insurance. Metlife is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than China Life Insurance, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Summary

Metlife beats China Life Insurance on 10 of the 17 factors compared between the two stocks.

About Metlife

MetLife, Inc. engages in the insurance, annuities, employee benefits, and asset management businesses. It operates through five segments: U.S.; Asia; Latin America; Europe, the Middle East and Africa; and MetLife Holdings. The company offers life, dental, group short- and long-term disability, individual disability, accidental death and dismemberment, vision, and accident and health coverages, as well as prepaid legal plans; administrative services-only arrangements to employers; and stable value products, including general and separate account guaranteed interest contracts, and private floating rate funding agreements. It also provides pension risk transfers, institutional income annuities, tort settlements, and capital markets investment products; and other products and services, such as life insurance products and funding agreements for funding postretirement benefits, as well as company, bank, or trust-owned life insurance used to finance nonqualified benefit programs for executives. In addition, the company offers automobile, homeowners', and personal excess liability, as well as small business owners' property, liability, and business interruption insurance products. Further, it provides fixed annuities and pension products; medical and credit insurance products; variable, universal, term, endowment, and whole life insurance products; variable, and fixed and indexed-linked annuities; and protection against costs of long-term health care services. The company serves individuals, corporations and their employees, and other institutions and their members through independent agents, property and casualty specialists, sales forces, sales teams and relationship managers, and sponsoring organizations and affinity groups, as well as through career and independent agencies, bancassurance, direct marketing and e-commerce, brokers, and other third-party distribution channels. MetLife, Inc. was founded in 1863 and is headquartered in New York, New York.

About China Life Insurance

China Life Insurance Company Limited, together with its subsidiaries, operates as a life insurance company in the People's Republic of China. It operates in four segments: Life Insurance Business, Health Insurance Business, Accident Insurance Business, and Other Businesses. The company offers individual and group life, annuity, accident, and health insurance products, as well as pension products. It is also involved in the asset management, annuity, retirement properties investment, fund management, financial service, health management, investment, investment management, and reinsurance businesses. China Life Insurance Company Limited sells its products through agents, direct sales representatives, and dedicated and non-dedicated agencies. The company was founded in 1949 and is headquartered in Beijing, the People's Republic of China. China Life Insurance Company Limited is a subsidiary of China Life Insurance (Group) Company Limited.

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