The Aetna Inc. (AET) Upgraded to Buy by Zacks Investment Research

The Aetna Inc. (AET) Upgraded to Buy by Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Aetna Inc. (NYSE:AET) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report sent to investors on Tuesday. Zacks Investment Research currently has $128.00 price objective on the stock.

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 commented on AET. Credit Suisse Group AG reiterated a hold rating and issued a $120.00 price target on shares of Aetna in a research report on Tuesday, August 30th. Leerink Swann reiterated an outperform rating on shares of Aetna in a research report on Wednesday, August 24th. Evercore ISI assumed coverage on Aetna in a research report on Thursday, September 22nd. They issued a buy rating and a $128.00 price target on the stock. Jefferies Group reiterated a hold rating on shares of Aetna in a research report on Tuesday, August 23rd. Finally, Wolfe Research assumed coverage on Aetna in a research report on Tuesday, June 28th. They issued an outperform rating and a $154.00 price target on the stock. Six research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and eleven have issued a buy rating to the stock. The company presently has an average rating of Buy and a consensus target price of $132.43.

Shares of Aetna (NYSE:AET) traded down 0.11% during midday trading on Tuesday, reaching $114.64. The company had a trading volume of 431,578 shares. The stock has a market capitalization of $40.22 billion, a PE ratio of 16.80 and a beta of 0.54. Aetna has a 12-month low of $92.42 and a 12-month high of $123.57. The stock’s 50 day moving average is $116.60 and its 200-day moving average is $115.80.

Aetna (NYSE:AET) last issued its earnings results on Tuesday, August 2nd. The company reported $2.21 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $2.12 by $0.09. Aetna had a return on equity of 16.44% and a net margin of 3.89%. The business earned $15.95 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $15.69 billion. During the same quarter in the prior year, the firm earned $2.05 EPS. The business’s revenue for the quarter was up 4.7% compared to the same quarter last year. On average, equities research analysts predict that Aetna will post $8.05 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The firm also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, October 28th. Investors of record on Thursday, October 13th will be given a dividend of $0.25 per share. This represents a $1.00 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 0.87%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Tuesday, October 11th. Aetna’s payout ratio is 14.73%.

In related news, insider Shawn M. Guertin sold 45,328 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, August 23rd. The stock was sold at an average price of $120.21, for a total transaction of $5,448,878.88. Following the completion of the sale, the insider now directly owns 44,883 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $5,395,385.43. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through this hyperlink. Also, Director Jeffrey E. Garten sold 7,100 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, September 7th. The shares were sold at an average price of $116.51, for a total value of $827,221.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Corporate insiders own 0.90% of the company’s stock.

Several hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of the stock. Hartford Financial Management Inc. increased its stake in shares of Aetna by 304.8% in the second quarter. Hartford Financial Management Inc. now owns 850 shares of the company’s stock worth $101,000 after buying an additional 640 shares during the last quarter. Parkside Financial Bank & Trust increased its stake in shares of Aetna by 9.7% in the second quarter. Parkside Financial Bank & Trust now owns 829 shares of the company’s stock worth $101,000 after buying an additional 73 shares during the last quarter. Acrospire Investment Management LLC increased its stake in shares of Aetna by 37.3% in the second quarter. Acrospire Investment Management LLC now owns 1,105 shares of the company’s stock worth $135,000 after buying an additional 300 shares during the last quarter. FirstMerit Bank N A Trustee acquired a new stake in shares of Aetna during the second quarter worth approximately $200,000. Finally, Genesee Valley Trust Co. acquired a new stake in shares of Aetna during the second quarter worth approximately $203,000. 91.95% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

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. 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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