Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Humana (NYSE:HUM) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report issued on Monday. They currently have $294.00 price target on the insurance provider’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Humana’s fourth-quarter 2017 earnings per share of $2.06 beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate but declined 12% year over year due to higher benefit expenses. Following decent 2017 results, the company provided strong guidance for 2018. Its shares have outperformed the industry in last three months.  Humana is well poised to grow on its strong government business. Its top line has been witnessing an uptrend for past many years. Sufficient generation of cash flow has helped the company take up several capital deployment initiatives aimed at enhancing shareholders’ value. Humana’s sound balance sheet and disciplined capital management remain major tailwinds. However, the company's individual commercial business has remained a drag over past few years. Rising level of expenses also continues to weigh on the bottom line.”

A number of other research analysts also recently issued reports on the company. JPMorgan Chase & Co. boosted their price target on Humana from $253.00 to $271.00 and gave the company a neutral rating in a report on Monday. Deutsche Bank boosted their price target on Humana from $259.00 to $270.00 and gave the company a hold rating in a report on Friday. Oppenheimer boosted their price target on Humana from $275.00 to $305.00 and gave the company an outperform rating in a report on Thursday, February 8th. Leerink Swann boosted their price target on Humana from $280.00 to $300.00 and gave the company an outperform rating in a report on Thursday, February 8th. Finally, Credit Suisse Group raised Humana from a neutral rating to an outperform rating and decreased their price target for the company from $264.90 to $246.00 in a report on Thursday, February 8th. Seven equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and fifteen have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. Humana has an average rating of Buy and a consensus price target of $270.47.

Humana (HUM) opened at $267.05 on Monday. Humana has a twelve month low of $203.36 and a twelve month high of $293.35. The stock has a market capitalization of $36,528.92, a P/E ratio of 22.70, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.44 and a beta of 0.93. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.48, a current ratio of 1.85 and a quick ratio of 1.61.

Humana (NYSE:HUM) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, February 7th. The insurance provider reported $2.06 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $2.00 by $0.06. Humana had a return on equity of 16.13% and a net margin of 4.55%. The company had revenue of $13.19 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $13.14 billion. During the same period in the previous year, the company posted $2.34 earnings per share. Humana’s revenue for the quarter was up 2.4% on a year-over-year basis. equities research analysts predict that Humana will post 13.85 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, April 27th. Stockholders of record on Friday, March 30th will be given a $0.50 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Wednesday, March 28th. This is a boost from Humana’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.40. This represents a $2.00 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 0.75%. Humana’s payout ratio is 9.59%.

Humana announced that its board has approved a share buyback plan on Thursday, December 14th that allows the company to repurchase $3.00 billion in shares. This repurchase authorization allows the insurance provider to repurchase shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock repurchase plans are typically a sign that the company’s board of directors believes its shares are undervalued.

In other news, SVP Jody L. Bilney sold 7,054 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, December 18th. The stock was sold at an average price of $247.89, for a total value of $1,748,616.06. Following the completion of the sale, the senior vice president now directly owns 11,704 shares in the company, valued at $2,901,304.56. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through this link. Also, SVP Brian P. Leclaire sold 1,679 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, December 21st. The shares were sold at an average price of $245.97, for a total value of $412,983.63. Following the completion of the sale, the senior vice president now owns 9,888 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $2,432,151.36. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold 10,115 shares of company stock valued at $2,501,627 over the last 90 days. Company insiders own 0.80% of the company’s stock.

Institutional investors and hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of the stock. Koch Industries Inc. purchased a new stake in shares of Humana during the second quarter worth approximately $404,000. Adviser Investments LLC purchased a new stake in shares of Humana during the third quarter worth approximately $635,000. Wells Fargo & Company MN increased its position in shares of Humana by 10.0% during the third quarter. Wells Fargo & Company MN now owns 1,653,318 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $402,799,000 after purchasing an additional 150,173 shares in the last quarter. Commonwealth Bank of Australia increased its position in shares of Humana by 3.9% during the third quarter. Commonwealth Bank of Australia now owns 21,112 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $5,138,000 after purchasing an additional 796 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Prudential Financial Inc. increased its position in shares of Humana by 53.6% during the third quarter. Prudential Financial Inc. now owns 378,133 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $92,125,000 after purchasing an additional 131,990 shares in the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 94.13% of the company’s stock.

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About Humana

Humana Inc is a health and well-being company. The Company’s segments include Retail, Group and Specialty, Healthcare Services and Individual Commercial. The Retail segment consists of Medicare benefits, as well as individual commercial fully insured medical and specialty health insurance benefits, including dental, vision, and other supplemental health and financial protection products.

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