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Humana (NYSE:HUM) was upgraded by research analysts at Stifel Nicolaus from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a report released on Friday, TheFlyOnTheWall.com reports. The firm currently has a $155.00 price objective on the stock. Stifel Nicolaus’ target price points to a potential upside of 24.65% from the stock’s previous close.

The analysts wrote, “We believe investors should own shares ahead of 2Q14 earnings, add more if weak Health Insurance Exchange (HIE) results pressure shares, and manage the position for ~3 years,” said Carroll. In explaining his opinion, Carroll pointed to Humana’s history of demonstrating its ability to maneuver the changing rules of Medicare Advantage in a way that maintains an adequate margin. Furthermore, he stressed the importance of this fact due to the growing population of those eligible to apply for Medicare. Carroll concluded, “We want to own shares now despite the risk of the quarter. Should results and management tone be worse than expected, we want to buy more in the weakness. Our view is that the stocks of government focused MCOs – including MA – will trade at a premium to the group average in coming years.”

Shares of Humana (NYSE:HUM) traded up 1.71% during mid-day trading on Friday, hitting $126.48. The stock had a trading volume of 152,393 shares. Humana has a one year low of $79.82 and a one year high of $126.44. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $117.0 and its 200-day moving average is $107.5. The company has a market cap of $19.577 billion and a price-to-earnings ratio of 17.48.

Humana (NYSE:HUM) last released its earnings data on Wednesday, May 7th. The company reported $2.35 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the analysts’ consensus estimate of $1.94 by $0.41. During the same quarter last year, the company posted $2.69 earnings per share. On average, analysts predict that Humana will post $7.80 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which is scheduled for Friday, July 25th. Shareholders of record on Monday, June 30th will be paid a dividend of $0.28 per share. This represents a $1.12 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 0.90%. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, June 26th. This is a positive change from Humana’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.27.

Several other analysts have also recently commented on the stock. Analysts at Stifel upgraded shares of Humana from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research note on Friday. They now have a $155.00 price target on the stock. Separately, analysts at Leerink Swann reiterated an “outperform” rating on shares of Humana in a research note on Friday, May 23rd. They now have a $140.00 price target on the stock, up previously from $135.00. Finally, analysts at Argus raised their price target on shares of Humana from $125.00 to $135.00 in a research note on Thursday, May 22nd. They now have a “buy” rating on the stock. Three equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, eleven have issued a hold rating and seven have issued a buy rating to the stock. The stock has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $125.40.

Humana Inc (NYSE:HUM) is a health care company.

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