Aetna Inc. (NYSE:AET) Upgraded by Zacks Investment Research to “Strong-Buy”

Aetna Inc. (NYSE:AET) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “strong-buy” rating in a report released on Wednesday, October 25th. The firm currently has a $184.00 price objective on the stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s price objective suggests a potential upside of 5.07% from the stock’s previous close.

According to Zacks, “Aetna’s shares performed in line with the industry year to date. We expect the company to derive long-term growth from its Government business. Cost-reduction initiatives and growing ACO collaborations pave the way for long-term growth. A strong balance sheet is another positive. Its International expansion is also perceived as an opportunity in the face of increased regulation in the U.S. Following strong second-quarter results, Aetna rasied its earnings guidance which cements investors' confidence in the company. The stock has seen the Zacks Consensus Estimate for current-year earnings being revised 6.3% upward over the last 90 days. Aetna has, however, been incurring losses in its public exchange business and has been exiting exchanges to avoid losses from this business. Furthermore, its membership growth remains under pressure. Increasing medical benefit ratios are also likely to hurt margins.”

Several other equities analysts have also weighed in on AET. Cantor Fitzgerald restated an “overweight” rating and issued a $175.00 price objective (up from $150.00) on shares of Aetna in a report on Wednesday, August 9th. Jefferies Group LLC restated a “hold” rating and issued a $163.00 price objective (up from $157.00) on shares of Aetna in a report on Friday, August 4th. Deutsche Bank AG increased their price objective on shares of Aetna from $157.00 to $163.00 and gave the company a “hold” rating in a report on Monday, August 7th. Royal Bank of Canada increased their price objective on shares of Aetna from $162.00 to $171.00 and gave the company an “outperform” rating in a report on Friday, August 4th. Finally, Credit Suisse Group restated an “outperform” rating and issued a $165.00 price objective (up from $160.00) on shares of Aetna in a report on Thursday, July 13th. Eleven equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and fourteen have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. Aetna currently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $170.34.

Shares of Aetna (NYSE AET) traded up $2.59 during mid-day trading on Wednesday, hitting $175.12. 2,240,900 shares of the stock were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 2,447,441. Aetna has a 12 month low of $116.04 and a 12 month high of $184.98. The firm has a market capitalization of $56,262.04, a price-to-earnings ratio of 16.90, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.57 and a beta of 0.61. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.52, a current ratio of 0.53 and a quick ratio of 0.53.

Aetna (NYSE:AET) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Tuesday, October 31st. The company reported $2.45 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $2.06 by $0.39. Aetna had a net margin of 2.93% and a return on equity of 21.84%. The business had revenue of $14.99 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $15.12 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the business posted $2.07 earnings per share. Aetna’s revenue was down 5.0% compared to the same quarter last year. equities research analysts anticipate that Aetna will post 9.78 earnings per share for the current year.

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In other news, EVP Margaret M. Mccarthy sold 10,288 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Friday, September 15th. The shares were sold at an average price of $162.85, for a total transaction of $1,675,400.80. Following the completion of the sale, the executive vice president now owns 33,563 shares in the company, valued at approximately $5,465,734.55. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is accessible through this link. Also, President Karen S. Lynch sold 15,271 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Monday, September 18th. The stock was sold at an average price of $161.91, for a total transaction of $2,472,527.61. Following the sale, the president now owns 64,261 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $10,404,498.51. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Company insiders own 0.90% of the company’s stock.

A number of institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of the business. BlackRock Inc. raised its stake in Aetna by 3,374.9% in the 1st quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 30,712,219 shares of the company’s stock worth $3,917,344,000 after purchasing an additional 29,828,390 shares in the last quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. raised its stake in Aetna by 3.8% in the 1st quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 23,117,526 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,948,640,000 after purchasing an additional 838,578 shares in the last quarter. Capital World Investors raised its stake in Aetna by 8.9% in the 2nd quarter. Capital World Investors now owns 20,769,004 shares of the company’s stock worth $3,153,358,000 after purchasing an additional 1,688,767 shares in the last quarter. FMR LLC raised its stake in Aetna by 73.8% in the 2nd quarter. FMR LLC now owns 13,736,800 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,085,659,000 after purchasing an additional 5,833,567 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Janus Henderson Group PLC raised its stake in Aetna by 9,446.2% in the 2nd quarter. Janus Henderson Group PLC now owns 4,328,900 shares of the company’s stock worth $657,255,000 after purchasing an additional 4,283,553 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 91.06% of the company’s stock.

Aetna Company Profile

Aetna Inc is a diversified healthcare benefits company. The Company operates through three segments: Health Care, Group Insurance and Large Case Pensions. It offers a range of traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental, behavioral health, group life and disability plans, medical management capabilities, Medicaid healthcare management services, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement plans, workers’ compensation administrative services and health information technology (HIT) products and services.

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