Zacks Investment Research Downgrades UnitedHealth Group (UNH) to Hold

UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note issued on Friday. They presently have a $254.00 price target on the healthcare conglomerate’s stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s target price suggests a potential upside of 13.25% from the company’s current price.

According to Zacks, “Shares of UnitedHealth Group have outperformed the industry in a year's time. 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. The stock has seen the Zacks Consensus Estimate for current-year earnings being revised upward over the last 90 days. Nevertheless, membership loss in its fee based commercial business and Brazilian business will pull down the overall membership growth.”

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A number of other brokerages also recently weighed in on UNH. Deutsche Bank boosted their price target on shares of UnitedHealth Group to $260.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a report on Wednesday, January 17th. Cantor Fitzgerald reissued a “buy” rating and issued a $235.00 price target on shares of UnitedHealth Group in a report on Tuesday, January 16th. BMO Capital Markets boosted their price target on shares of UnitedHealth Group from $14.50 to $275.00 and gave the stock an “outperform” rating in a report on Wednesday, January 17th. Credit Suisse Group boosted their price target on shares of UnitedHealth Group from $252.00 to $260.00 and gave the stock an “outperform” rating in a report on Wednesday, January 17th. Finally, Barclays initiated coverage on shares of UnitedHealth Group in a report on Thursday, March 8th. They issued an “overweight” rating and a $265.00 price target on the stock. Three equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and twenty-five have issued a buy rating to the company. The stock currently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $244.62.

Shares of NYSE:UNH opened at $224.28 on Friday. The company has a current ratio of 0.73, a quick ratio of 0.73 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.58. The stock has a market capitalization of $216,988.73, a P/E ratio of 22.27, a P/E/G ratio of 1.31 and a beta of 0.77. UnitedHealth Group has a fifty-two week low of $164.96 and a fifty-two week high of $250.79.

UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, January 16th. The healthcare conglomerate reported $2.59 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $2.50 by $0.09. The company had revenue of $52.06 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $51.57 billion. UnitedHealth Group had a net margin of 5.25% and a return on equity of 21.29%. The firm’s quarterly revenue was up 9.5% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period in the previous year, the firm earned $2.11 EPS. analysts expect that UnitedHealth Group will post 12.52 EPS for the current year.

In other news, Director Kenneth Irwin Shine sold 198 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Friday, January 19th. The stock was sold at an average price of $242.55, for a total transaction of $48,024.90. Following the sale, the director now directly owns 1,790,567 shares in the company, valued at $434,302,025.85. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available at this link. Also, Director Michele J. Hooper sold 10,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, January 31st. The shares were sold at an average price of $237.76, for a total value of $2,377,600.00. Following the sale, the director now owns 37,284 shares in the company, valued at $8,864,643.84. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last quarter, insiders have sold 77,015 shares of company stock worth $17,879,199. Company insiders own 0.89% of the company’s stock.

Several institutional investors and hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in UNH. Capital International Investors increased its position in shares of UnitedHealth Group by 399.3% in the third quarter. Capital International Investors now owns 4,132,602 shares of the healthcare conglomerate’s stock worth $809,370,000 after purchasing an additional 3,304,902 shares during the last quarter. Jennison Associates LLC increased its position in shares of UnitedHealth Group by 146.0% in the third quarter. Jennison Associates LLC now owns 5,541,977 shares of the healthcare conglomerate’s stock worth $1,085,396,000 after purchasing an additional 3,289,470 shares during the last quarter. Egerton Capital UK LLP bought a new position in shares of UnitedHealth Group in the fourth quarter worth approximately $368,905,000. Amundi Pioneer Asset Management Inc. increased its position in shares of UnitedHealth Group by 72.1% in the fourth quarter. Amundi Pioneer Asset Management Inc. now owns 1,919,846 shares of the healthcare conglomerate’s stock worth $423,249,000 after purchasing an additional 804,091 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Arrowstreet Capital Limited Partnership increased its position in shares of UnitedHealth Group by 22.4% in the fourth quarter. Arrowstreet Capital Limited Partnership now owns 4,323,180 shares of the healthcare conglomerate’s stock worth $953,088,000 after purchasing an additional 792,527 shares during the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 86.80% of the company’s stock.

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About UnitedHealth Group

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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