Aetna Inc. (NYSE:AET) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a report released on Tuesday. The firm currently has a $128.00 target price on the stock. Zacks Investment Research’s target price would suggest a potential upside of 11.32% from the stock’s current price.
According to Zacks, “Aetna expects long-term growth from its outperforming Government business. In addition, its International business provides necessary diversification benefits. Cost-reduction initiatives will also add to the bottom line. A strong balance sheet is another positive. Nevertheless, the company has been sued by the DoJ over the Humana acquisition. The deal, which would have enhanced its market power, now remains clouded in uncertainty. Aetna is also incurring losses in its public exchange business and is exiting any exchanges to save itself from the losses from this business. Moreover, its membership growth remains under pressure. Increasing medical benefit ratios and cessation of share buyback due to the pending merger of Humana will further hurt the bottom line.”
A number of other research firms have also weighed in on AET. Leerink Swann reissued an “outperform” rating on shares of Aetna in a research report on Tuesday, June 21st. Credit Suisse Group AG reissued a “hold” rating and set a $120.00 price target on shares of Aetna in a research report on Wednesday, August 17th. FBR & Co reissued a “hold” rating on shares of Aetna in a research report on Wednesday, August 17th. Jefferies Group reissued a “hold” rating on shares of Aetna in a research report on Tuesday, August 23rd. Finally, Sanford C. Bernstein assumed coverage on shares of Aetna in a research report on Thursday, June 16th. They set an “outperform” rating and a $142.00 price target on the stock. Six investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and eleven have assigned a buy rating to the company. The company currently has an average rating of “Buy” and an average price target of $132.43.
Shares of Aetna (NYSE:AET) opened at 114.98 on Tuesday. The company has a market cap of $40.33 billion, a P/E ratio of 16.85 and a beta of 0.54. Aetna has a 12-month low of $92.42 and a 12-month high of $123.57. The firm has a 50-day moving average of $116.49 and a 200-day moving average of $115.79.
Aetna (NYSE:AET) last released its quarterly earnings data on Tuesday, August 2nd. The company reported $2.21 earnings per share for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $2.12 by $0.09. Aetna had a net margin of 3.89% and a return on equity of 16.44%. The firm had revenue of $15.95 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $15.69 billion. During the same period last year, the firm earned $2.05 earnings per share. The business’s quarterly revenue was up 4.7% compared to the same quarter last year. Analysts predict that Aetna will post $8.05 EPS for the current year.
The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, October 28th. Investors of record on Thursday, October 13th will be paid a dividend of $0.25 per share. The ex-dividend date is Tuesday, October 11th. This represents a $1.00 annualized dividend and a yield of 0.87%. Aetna’s dividend payout ratio is currently 14.73%.
In other Aetna news, Director Jeffrey E. Garten sold 7,100 shares of Aetna stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, September 7th. The shares were sold at an average price of $116.51, for a total transaction of $827,221.00. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this hyperlink. Also, insider Shawn M. Guertin sold 45,328 shares of Aetna stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, August 23rd. The shares were sold at an average price of $120.21, for a total transaction of $5,448,878.88. Following the sale, the insider now owns 44,883 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $5,395,385.43. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Corporate insiders own 0.90% of the company’s stock.
A number of large investors have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. Alliancebernstein L.P. raised its stake in shares of Aetna by 16.3% in the second quarter. Alliancebernstein L.P. now owns 5,839,197 shares of the company’s stock valued at $713,141,000 after buying an additional 818,913 shares during the last quarter. Lazard Asset Management LLC raised its stake in shares of Aetna by 40.5% in the first quarter. Lazard Asset Management LLC now owns 2,373,143 shares of the company’s stock valued at $266,622,000 after buying an additional 684,597 shares during the last quarter. Emerald Acquisition Ltd. bought a new stake in shares of Aetna during the second quarter valued at about $74,955,000. Brown Advisory Inc. raised its stake in shares of Aetna by 6,277.0% in the second quarter. Brown Advisory Inc. now owns 612,515 shares of the company’s stock valued at $74,807,000 after buying an additional 602,910 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Bridger Management LLC bought a new stake in shares of Aetna during the first quarter valued at about $62,926,000. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 91.95% of the company’s stock.
Aetna Inc is a diversified healthcare benefits company. The Company operates through three segments: Health Care, Group Insurance and Large Case Pensions. The Health Care segment’s products and services consist of medical, pharmacy benefit management services, dental, behavioral health and vision plans offered on both an insured basis and an employer-funded, or administrative services contact, basis and emerging businesses products and services, such as accountable care solutions (ACS).
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