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Sandler O'Neill upgrades Athene Holdings on improved operating performance

Sandler O'Neill & Partners analyst John Barnidge raised his rating on Athene Holding Ltd. to "buy" from "hold" based on the company's improved operating performance.

The analyst said that despite the 12.3% move higher in share price, the company's valuation is cheaper than before and its operating performance and environment have improved since it went public in December 2016. He said the company has reported three quarterly earnings results since it went public, and all of them have "handily beaten."

The analyst increased his 2017 EPS estimate to $5.35 from $4.75 and 2018 EPS estimate to $5.60 from $5.20. He also increased his price target to $58 from $54.