Shares of Columbus-based insurance company Aflac surged to near $81 and a 52-week high in trading Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange, following the overall market upward.
Aflac shares jumped from Monday’s close of $79.75 to $80.64 not long after the stock markets opened Tuesday, then waffled up and down somewhat through the day before closing at $80.89. That was a gain of $1.14, or 1.4 percent, on the day, although the actual 52-week high of $80.94 per share came not long before the close.
The upward movement came with both the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrials venturing into positive territory, with the Dow reaching a record high not far off 22,000 points.
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Supplemental health and life insurer Aflac last week reported a second-quarter profit of $713 million, which was a 30-percent increase over the same April-June period of 2016. The firm headquartered on Wynnton Road also has approved a quarterly dividend of 43 cents per share payable Sept. 1 to those owning its stock at the end of the day Aug. 23.
Reaching $80 per share puts Aflac possibly on the path to considering a stock split, particularly if the company holds that pricing ground for the next few months. Aflac Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dan Amos at the firm’s annual meeting in early May broached the subject and laid out the required criteria in his comments to shareholders and the media.
“As I’ve stated in the past, we believe that our stock price should be above $75 per share for a period of six months before the board will consider a stock split,” Amos said. “Now that is not $75 one day. That’s over a period of six months.”
Aflac’s stock has closed at $73 per share or better since April 10, with it in steadily moving into the $74- to $75-per-share range over the next few weeks. The stock made a noticeable leap to $78 per share on June 9 and held that gain for the most part until Tuesday’s climb above $80. That’s nearly two months of solid positioning in the neighborhood of $75 per share or greater.
The last time Aflac’s stock did split was in 2001, when the adjusted price — after a two-to-one split — was $26.95 per share.
Since reaching a 52-week low of $66.50 per share on Feb. 2 of this year, Aflac shares now have gained just over 21 percent.