Why Prudential Is Poised to Pull Back

While Fools should generally take the opinion of Wall Street with a grain of salt, it's not a bad idea to take a closer look at particularly stock-shaking upgrades and downgrades -- just in case their reasoning behind the call makes sense.

What: Shares of Prudential Financial (NYSE: PRU  ) slipped 1% this morning after Deutsche Bank downgraded the insurance company from buy to hold.

So what: Along with the downgrade, analyst Yaron Kinar reiterated his price target of $96, representing about 8% worth of upside to yesterday's close. While momentum traders might be attracted to the stock's steady climb in 2013, Kinar believes Prudential's valuation is on the rich side at this point.

Now what: Deutsche sees much better bets in the sector. "While we continue to see upside (our TP is $96) it is no longer enough to continue to recommend the name," noted Deutsche. "Although PRU would benefit from further S&P appreciation and rising rates, its rate sensitivity is lower than [Lincoln Financial's] or [MetLife's]." With Prudential shares up 85% from their 52-week lows and trading at an adjusted price-to-book multiple of 1.5 -- a clear premium to the industry -- it's tough to disagree with Deutsche's downgrade.

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