HCA Healthcare (NYSE:HCA) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report issued to clients and investors on Tuesday.

According to Zacks, “HCA Healthcare’s shares have outperformed its industry’s gain in a year’s time.  Its top line has been growing over the last several quarters on higher admissions as well as improved payor and service mix. A number of acquisitions helped the company gain a strong foothold in the industry, fueling its inorganic growth. The company has also raised its guidance from its previous projections. A strong balance sheet and free cash flow are a couple of other positives for the company. The company's third quarter earnings of $2.16 per share, surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 11.9%, led by higher same facility admissions. However, its high operating expenses continue to weigh on the margins. The company would continue to incur debts for future acquisitions, which is a concern.”

HCA has been the subject of a number of other reports. Credit Suisse Group boosted their price objective on shares of HCA Healthcare from $156.00 to $165.00 and gave the stock an “outperform” rating in a report on Thursday, November 1st. Jefferies Financial Group boosted their price objective on shares of HCA Healthcare to $155.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a report on Friday, September 21st. SunTrust Banks boosted their price objective on shares of HCA Healthcare to $150.00 and gave the stock a “positive” rating in a report on Tuesday, September 4th. Morgan Stanley boosted their price objective on shares of HCA Healthcare from $115.00 to $124.00 and gave the stock an “underweight” rating in a report on Wednesday, September 5th. Finally, Argus boosted their price objective on shares of HCA Healthcare to $150.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a report on Friday, September 7th. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, five have given a hold rating and sixteen have issued a buy rating to the company. The stock currently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $144.45.

Shares of HCA opened at $134.81 on Tuesday. HCA Healthcare has a 52 week low of $75.45 and a 52 week high of $144.96. The company has a market capitalization of $46.52 billion, a PE ratio of 20.46, a P/E/G ratio of 1.19 and a beta of 0.48.

HCA Healthcare (NYSE:HCA) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, October 30th. The company reported $2.16 EPS for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.93 by $0.23. HCA Healthcare had a negative return on equity of 73.71% and a net margin of 6.82%. The firm had revenue of $11.45 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $11.29 billion. During the same period in the previous year, the firm posted $1.13 EPS. The business’s revenue for the quarter was up 7.1% compared to the same quarter last year. On average, research analysts predict that HCA Healthcare will post 9.35 earnings per share for the current year.

In other HCA Healthcare news, insider Michael S. Cuffe sold 5,196 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Friday, November 2nd. The shares were sold at an average price of $136.52, for a total transaction of $709,357.92. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through this link. Also, SVP Deborah M. Reiner sold 723 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Monday, November 5th. The shares were sold at an average price of $135.06, for a total transaction of $97,648.38. Following the sale, the senior vice president now owns 6,184 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $835,211.04. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last quarter, insiders have sold 16,763 shares of company stock valued at $2,346,147. Company insiders own 2.80% of the company’s stock.

A number of institutional investors and hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in HCA. FMR LLC raised its stake in HCA Healthcare by 98.7% during the 3rd quarter. FMR LLC now owns 10,907,407 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,517,438,000 after buying an additional 5,419,134 shares during the last quarter. AQR Capital Management LLC raised its stake in HCA Healthcare by 433.7% during the 3rd quarter. AQR Capital Management LLC now owns 1,293,241 shares of the company’s stock valued at $179,916,000 after buying an additional 1,050,940 shares during the last quarter. Massachusetts Financial Services Co. MA raised its stake in HCA Healthcare by 98.3% during the 3rd quarter. Massachusetts Financial Services Co. MA now owns 1,767,715 shares of the company’s stock valued at $245,925,000 after buying an additional 876,226 shares during the last quarter. Point72 Asset Management L.P. grew its position in shares of HCA Healthcare by 547.2% during the 3rd quarter. Point72 Asset Management L.P. now owns 873,660 shares of the company’s stock valued at $121,544,000 after acquiring an additional 738,660 shares during the period. Finally, Renaissance Technologies LLC grew its position in shares of HCA Healthcare by 187.9% during the 2nd quarter. Renaissance Technologies LLC now owns 1,094,431 shares of the company’s stock valued at $112,289,000 after acquiring an additional 714,331 shares during the period. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 71.97% of the company’s stock.

About HCA Healthcare

HCA Healthcare, Inc, through its subsidiaries, provides health care services. The company operates general, acute care hospitals that offer medical and surgical services, including inpatient care, intensive care, cardiac care, diagnostic, and emergency services; and outpatient services, such as outpatient surgery, laboratory, radiology, respiratory therapy, cardiology, and physical therapy services.

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