Aflac shares fall 17 percent, other insurers down

Columbus-based supplemental insurer Aflac saw its stock price plummet Thursday to a 52-week low of $37.26.

Aflac stock rebounded slightly in trading on the New York Stock Exchange to close at $39.70 -- a drop of $8.26, or about 17 percent, from Wednesday.

Columbus-based Synovus also saw a 17 percent drop in its stock price Thursday. Shares of Synovus closed at $8.60, down $1.88, but still more than $1 above its 52-week low in July.

It was a rough day for other insurance companies as well. Stock for Prudential Financial Inc. dropped about 23 percent. Lincoln National fell almost 35 percent. And Protective Life Corp. saw a 44 percent drop.

Ken Janke, Aflac senior vice president of investor relations, said the insurance sector overall is taking a beating.

"They're not picking on us," Janke said Thursday. "Investors are concerned over anything financial -- whether it's a brokerage firm, insurance company or bank. Like it or not... insurance companies are viewed as financials. But as bad as it is for us today, it's harder for a lot of other insurance companies."

Janke's issue is that Aflac is fundamentally different as a supplemental insurance company. As for Aflac's investment portfolio, Janke said, it's in the company's nature to take a "very conservative approach when it comes to the balance sheet."

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