(AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Just four out of 15 life insurers received a “buy” rating in a Sterne Agee industry report, released today.

The report, authored by Sterne Agree Analyst John Nadel, gives “buy” ratings to Aflac, Hartford Financial Services Group, MetLife and Prudential Financial.

Citing improving macroeconomic factors, among them today’s better-than-expected jobs report, as well as gains in S&P futures and 10-year Treasury yields, the report states that investors “should focus on this subgroup of stocks [Aflac, Hartford, MetLife and Prudential], particularly given the clear leverage to the improving macros (save for [Aflac]).”

Of the remaining insurers, the Sterne Agree report gives eight “neutral” ratings. The companies include American International Group, Assurant Inc., Ameriprise Financial Inc., Lincoln National Corp., Principal Financial Group, Protective Life Corp., Reinsurance Group of America, Torchmark Corp., and Unum Group.

An additional two companies are rated “underperform:” StanCorp Financial Group and Symetra Financial Corp.

“While this analyst is clearly no economist, it seems reasonable to conclude from this morning’s job report that Fed tapering will continue and thus the pressure to long-term Treasury yields is more likely to the upside, particularly following the [year-to-date] pullback,” Sterne Agee’s Nadel writes in the report. “Combined with the recent rally in the S&P 500 (now up nearly 2 percent YTD), it would appear the Life Sector, which has lagged, is in a sold position for a catch-up trade.

“As mentioned earlier, [Prudential Financial] is our top pick near-term given the set-up,” the report adds.

Here’s a recap of ratings and prices of life insurer stocks referenced in the report:

Symbol

Rating

Price

AFL

Buy

$65.22

AIG

Neutral

$51.14

AIZ

Neutral

$67.11

AMP

Neutral

$110.84

HIG

Buy

$36.14

LNC

Neutral

$51.93

MET

Buy

$52.37

PFG

Neutral

$46.69

PL

Neutral

$52.99

PRU

Buy

$86.77

RGA

Neutral

$78.07

SFG

Underperform

$68.40

SYA

Underperform

$20.37

TMK

Neutral

$79.40

UNM

Neutral

$35.66