The idea behind investing in socially responsible companies is to buy stocks in companies that are both good businesses and good citizens of the world.
With that thought in mind, let's look today at Primerica (NYSE:PRI). This company sells financial products throughout North America. The company specializes in term life insurance but also offers many other financial products and services as well. So who is Primerica, and why does the company refer to itself as a "main street" company? And is it a good investment, in addition to being a socially responsible company?
Why Primerica is a socially responsible company
Primerica states its mission as helping families earn more income and become properly protected, debt-free, and financially independent. The company claims to be the only one of its kind focused on the middle market, and it attempts to give middle-income families the tools they need to transform their financial lives.
The average Primerica customer has a household income of $65,000 and initially invests $4,700 and buys $247,000 in term life insurance. The company targets the 49% of American households with incomes between $30,000 and $100,000.
According to Primerica, much of the American middle class has inadequate life insurance, needs help saving, and carries too much consumer debt. In addition to selling its products, one of Primerica's main goals is to educate its customers on such topics as compound interest, "debt stacking" (paying high-interest debts first), good saving habits, insurance concepts, and wealth-building principles.
Primerica's products and services
The term life insurance specialist covers more than 4.3 million people. It also has over 2 million investment client accounts and offers such products and services as mutual funds, annuities, managed accounts, long-term care insurance, auto and home insurance, credit monitoring services, and debt management plans.
The company sells its products and services through its network of about 96,000 independent life insurance representatives, which is more than any of its major competitors can claim. Moreover, Primerica's 22,000 licensed mutual fund representatives is a larger number of financial advisors than Edward Jones, Ameriprise, or Raymond James Financial has.
Is it a solid investment as well as a socially responsible company?
Let's take a look at the numbers.
The company has done a good job of increasing its profitability, as well as using its assets efficiently. Over the past four years, the company has steadily increased its net operating return on adjusted stockholders' equity from 10.9% in 2010 to 14.7% in 2013, which is well above the 13.6% average for other life insurance companies.
Primerica's earnings growth speaks for itself. The company is expected to earn $3.32 per share for 2014, which means the stock trades for about 15 times this year's earnings. However, when you consider Primerica's 12% year-over-year earnings growth rate, that seems pretty reasonable. The company is projected to maintain a strong growth rate, with the analysts' consensus calling for 11% annual growth in 2015 and 2016.
The company also has a pretty aggressive strategy to return capital to its shareholders. While the 1% annual dividend yield isn't anything special, the company has done an excellent job of repurchasing shares. In fact, since the 2010 IPO, Primerica has used $612 million to retire 29% of the company's shares.
Primerica plans to continue to grow by increasing its distribution network, as well as by expanding its product offerings. For example, the company plans to consider adding such additional products as supplemental health insurance and more debt-related products.
So Primerica has solid growth and a good strategy for the future, while remaining committed to the underserved middle-income market. If you prefer to invest in socially responsible companies, Primerica may be worth a closer look for your portfolio.