Zacks Investment Research Upgrades UnitedHealth Group (UNH) to Buy

UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a report released on Saturday. The firm currently has a $267.00 price target on the healthcare conglomerate’s stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s target price suggests a potential upside of 9.72% from the stock’s previous close.

According to Zacks, “Shares of UnitedHealth Group outperformed the industry in a year’s time. The company’s fourth-quarter earnings beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate and grew year over year, led by higher revenues in both its segments and membership growth. The company’s robust Government business and continued strong growth at Optum are driving long-term growth. Its international business and strong capital position that allows for business investment are the other positives. It has been witnessing an increase in membership from past many years. The company raised its 2018 earnings guidance led by tax reform upside. Nevertheless, membership loss in its fee based commercial business and Brazilian business will pull down the overall membership growth.”

A number of other research firms have also commented on UNH. Cantor Fitzgerald restated a “buy” rating and set a $225.00 price objective on shares of UnitedHealth Group in a research note on Monday, November 27th. ValuEngine lowered UnitedHealth Group from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Thursday, October 5th. Piper Jaffray Companies raised their price objective on UnitedHealth Group to $228.00 and gave the stock an “overweight” rating in a research note on Tuesday, October 17th. Jefferies Group restated a “buy” rating and set a $248.00 price objective on shares of UnitedHealth Group in a research note on Friday, December 1st. Finally, Deutsche Bank raised their price objective on UnitedHealth Group to $260.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research note on Wednesday. Two analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and twenty-six have given a buy rating to the stock. The stock presently has an average rating of “Buy” and an average price target of $243.22.

UnitedHealth Group (UNH) traded up $0.19 during trading on Friday, reaching $243.35. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 4,289,381 shares, compared to its average volume of 3,010,000. UnitedHealth Group has a 12-month low of $156.49 and a 12-month high of $244.35. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.58, a quick ratio of 0.70 and a current ratio of 0.73. The company has a market cap of $235,290.00, a price-to-earnings ratio of 22.72, a PEG ratio of 1.42 and a beta of 0.66.

UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Tuesday, January 16th. The healthcare conglomerate reported $2.59 EPS for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $2.50 by $0.09. UnitedHealth Group had a return on equity of 21.29% and a net margin of 5.25%. The firm had revenue of $52.06 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $51.57 billion. During the same quarter last year, the company earned $2.11 EPS. The company’s revenue was up 9.5% on a year-over-year basis. equities analysts expect that UnitedHealth Group will post 12.53 earnings per share for the current year.

In related news, CEO Larry C. Renfro sold 22,598 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Friday, December 15th. The stock was sold at an average price of $221.75, for a total transaction of $5,011,106.50. Following the sale, the chief executive officer now owns 195,314 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $43,310,879.50. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available at this hyperlink. Also, Director Kenneth Irwin Shine sold 457 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, November 14th. The shares were sold at an average price of $211.03, for a total value of $96,440.71. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last three months, insiders have sold 33,655 shares of company stock worth $7,469,083. 0.89% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. Marshall Wace LLP lifted its holdings in UnitedHealth Group by 441.4% during the 2nd quarter. Marshall Wace LLP now owns 13,935 shares of the healthcare conglomerate’s stock worth $2,578,000 after buying an additional 11,361 shares during the period. American Century Companies Inc. lifted its holdings in UnitedHealth Group by 16.9% during the 2nd quarter. American Century Companies Inc. now owns 4,703,113 shares of the healthcare conglomerate’s stock worth $872,051,000 after buying an additional 681,111 shares during the period. Schwab Charles Investment Management Inc. lifted its holdings in UnitedHealth Group by 5.3% during the 2nd quarter. Schwab Charles Investment Management Inc. now owns 3,656,975 shares of the healthcare conglomerate’s stock worth $678,077,000 after buying an additional 183,401 shares during the period. Essex Financial Services Inc. lifted its holdings in UnitedHealth Group by 12.3% during the 2nd quarter. Essex Financial Services Inc. now owns 8,846 shares of the healthcare conglomerate’s stock worth $1,640,000 after buying an additional 967 shares during the period. Finally, Bainco International Investors lifted its holdings in UnitedHealth Group by 5.4% during the 3rd quarter. Bainco International Investors now owns 82,676 shares of the healthcare conglomerate’s stock worth $16,192,000 after buying an additional 4,202 shares during the period. 86.09% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

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About UnitedHealth Group

UnitedHealth Group Incorporated is a health and well-being company. The Company operates through four segments: UnitedHealthcare, OptumHealth, OptumInsight and OptumRx. It conducts its operations through two business platforms: health benefits operating under UnitedHealthcare and health services operating under Optum.

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