UnitedHealth Group Incorporated (UNH) Rating Lowered to Hold at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of UnitedHealth Group Incorporated (NYSE:UNH) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a report published on Tuesday.

According to Zacks, “UnitedHealth’s better-than-expected earnings were driven by strong results from both UnitedHealth Care and Optum segments. The company also reaffirmed the previously issued guidance for 2017, backed by stable medical costs, higher contribution from Optum and decline in exposure from its public exchange business. Shares of the company outperformed the Zacks categorized Medical Health Maintainence Organization industry. The company is consistently gaining from the Medicaid and Medicare businesses. Continued growth at Optum is also creating a diversified revenue source. The segment should see further growth from the Catamaran acquisition. Also, UnitedHealth should benefit from its capital strength and niche market position. Regular share buybacks and dividend increases are other positives. However, losses on public exchange business and higher operating costs are headwinds.”

Other equities analysts have also issued reports about the company. Jefferies Group LLC reaffirmed a buy rating and issued a $163.00 price target on shares of UnitedHealth Group in a report on Sunday, October 16th. Mizuho raised UnitedHealth Group from a neutral rating to a buy rating and set a $178.00 price target for the company in a report on Wednesday, November 30th. Leerink Swann reaffirmed a buy rating on shares of UnitedHealth Group in a report on Wednesday, November 23rd. Cowen and Company set a $175.00 price target on UnitedHealth Group and gave the stock a buy rating in a report on Wednesday, November 30th. Finally, Cantor Fitzgerald raised UnitedHealth Group from a hold rating to a buy rating and raised their price target for the stock from $157.32 to $200.00 in a report on Wednesday, December 7th. One analyst has rated the stock with a hold rating and twenty-two have given a buy rating to the company. UnitedHealth Group has an average rating of Buy and a consensus price target of $175.41.

Analyst Recommendations for UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH)

UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH) opened at 160.75 on Tuesday. The stock’s 50 day moving average price is $161.21 and its 200-day moving average price is $148.35. UnitedHealth Group has a 12-month low of $112.53 and a 12-month high of $164.00. The firm has a market cap of $152.90 billion, a PE ratio of 22.17 and a beta of 0.68.

UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Tuesday, January 17th. The healthcare conglomerate reported $2.11 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $2.07 by $0.04. UnitedHealth Group had a return on equity of 21.20% and a net margin of 3.92%. The business earned $47.50 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $47.12 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the company earned $1.40 earnings per share. UnitedHealth Group’s revenue was up 9.0% compared to the same quarter last year. Equities research analysts anticipate that UnitedHealth Group will post $9.51 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

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The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, March 21st. Stockholders of record on Friday, March 10th will be issued a dividend of $0.625 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Wednesday, March 8th. This represents a $2.50 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 1.56%. UnitedHealth Group’s payout ratio is 33.47%.

In other news, Director Gail R. Wilensky sold 5,460 shares of UnitedHealth Group stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, November 17th. The shares were sold at an average price of $150.55, for a total transaction of $822,003.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the director now directly owns 60,052 shares in the company, valued at $9,040,828.60. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through the SEC website. Also, Director Richard T. Burke sold 10,000 shares of UnitedHealth Group stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, January 31st. The shares were sold at an average price of $161.68, for a total transaction of $1,616,800.00. Following the transaction, the director now owns 1,921,191 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $310,618,160.88. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold 75,460 shares of company stock valued at $11,975,503 over the last quarter. Company insiders own 1.65% of the company’s stock.

Several institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in UNH. Smithfield Trust Co. increased its position in UnitedHealth Group by 188.2% in the second quarter. Smithfield Trust Co. now owns 1,873 shares of the healthcare conglomerate’s stock valued at $264,000 after buying an additional 1,223 shares in the last quarter. Ngam Advisors L.P. boosted its stake in UnitedHealth Group by 7.3% in the second quarter. Ngam Advisors L.P. now owns 396,685 shares of the healthcare conglomerate’s stock valued at $56,013,000 after buying an additional 27,074 shares during the last quarter. McKinley Carter Wealth Services Inc. boosted its stake in UnitedHealth Group by 6.5% in the second quarter. McKinley Carter Wealth Services Inc. now owns 15,693 shares of the healthcare conglomerate’s stock valued at $2,216,000 after buying an additional 956 shares during the last quarter. Badgley Phelps & Bell Inc. acquired a new stake in UnitedHealth Group during the second quarter valued at about $206,000. Finally, BB&T Corp boosted its stake in UnitedHealth Group by 204.1% in the second quarter. BB&T Corp now owns 227,118 shares of the healthcare conglomerate’s stock valued at $32,069,000 after buying an additional 152,430 shares during the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 86.54% of the company’s stock.

UnitedHealth Group Company Profile

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

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