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 research report issued to clients and investors on Monday. The brokerage currently has a $292.00 price target on the healthcare conglomerate’s stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s target price points to a potential upside of 9.20% from the company’s current price.

According to Zacks, “UnitedHealth’s shares have outperformed its industry’s growth in a year’s time. The company's performance is being backed by higher revenues and strength in both segments — UnitedHealthcare and Optum — plus membership growth. The company's robust Government is also driving long-term growth. Its international business and strong capital position are the other positives. The company’s raised earnings guidance for 2018 should instill optimism among its investors. However, the company's is seeing membership decline in Commercial segment. Moreover, two significant acquisitions would intensify the competition for UnitedHealth Group.”

A number of other analysts have also weighed in on UNH. Cantor Fitzgerald reiterated a “buy” rating and issued a $300.00 target price on shares of UnitedHealth Group in a research note on Thursday, August 9th. Morgan Stanley increased their target price on UnitedHealth Group from $278.00 to $305.00 and gave the stock an “overweight” rating in a research note on Wednesday, September 5th. Citigroup lowered UnitedHealth Group from a “buy” rating to a “neutral” rating and set a $288.00 target price on the stock. in a research note on Monday, September 10th. ValuEngine lowered UnitedHealth Group from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Tuesday, September 11th. Finally, Cowen started coverage on UnitedHealth Group in a research note on Monday, September 17th. They issued an “outperform” rating and a $308.00 target price on the stock. One analyst has rated the stock with a hold rating, twenty-two have given a buy rating and one has issued a strong buy rating to the company. The company currently has an average rating of “Buy” and a consensus target price of $289.55.

UNH traded up $5.79 during trading on Monday, reaching $267.41. The company had a trading volume of 565,640 shares, compared to its average volume of 3,210,482. The company has a market cap of $251.69 billion, a PE ratio of 26.56, a P/E/G ratio of 1.51 and a beta of 0.78. UnitedHealth Group has a 52 week low of $208.48 and a 52 week high of $278.00. The company has a quick ratio of 0.69, a current ratio of 0.69 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.61.

UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, October 16th. The healthcare conglomerate reported $3.41 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $3.30 by $0.11. The company had revenue of $56.56 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $56.34 billion. UnitedHealth Group had a return on equity of 23.62% and a net margin of 5.71%. UnitedHealth Group’s revenue was up 12.4% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period last year, the company earned $2.66 earnings per share. As a group, research analysts anticipate that UnitedHealth Group will post 12.81 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

In related news, CEO Steven H. Nelson sold 8,142 shares of UnitedHealth Group stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, September 13th. The stock was sold at an average price of $265.00, for a total transaction of $2,157,630.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the chief executive officer now directly owns 22,496 shares in the company, valued at $5,961,440. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which can be accessed through this hyperlink. Also, Director Kenneth Irwin Shine sold 163 shares of UnitedHealth Group stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, November 9th. The shares were sold at an average price of $274.83, for a total value of $44,797.29. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold 54,338 shares of company stock valued at $14,516,459 in the last ninety days. Corporate insiders own 0.87% of the company’s stock.

Hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. Worth Venture Partners LLC purchased a new stake in shares of UnitedHealth Group in the third quarter valued at approximately $104,000. Welch Group LLC purchased a new stake in shares of UnitedHealth Group in the second quarter valued at approximately $106,000. FNY Investment Advisers LLC purchased a new stake in shares of UnitedHealth Group in the third quarter valued at approximately $106,000. Blue Chip Partners Inc. purchased a new stake in shares of UnitedHealth Group in the second quarter valued at approximately $107,000. Finally, Fort L.P. purchased a new stake in shares of UnitedHealth Group in the second quarter valued at approximately $119,000. Institutional investors own 85.45% of the company’s stock.

UnitedHealth Group Company Profile

UnitedHealth Group Incorporated operates as a diversified health care company in the United States. It operates through four segments: UnitedHealthcare, OptumHealth, OptumInsight, and OptumRx. The UnitedHealthcare segment offers consumer-oriented health benefit plans and services for national employers, public sector employers, mid-sized employers, small businesses, and individuals; health care coverage, and health and well-being services to individuals age 50 and older, addressing their needs for preventive and acute health care services, as well as services dealing with chronic disease and other specialized issues for older individuals; and Medicaid plans, Children's Health Insurance Program, and health care programs; and health and dental benefits.

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