Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Humana (NYSE:HUM) from a strong-buy rating to a hold rating in a research report report published on Friday morning.

According to Zacks, “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. Following its strong third-quarter 2017 results, the company raised its 2017  earnings  guidance. Although its shares have underperformed the industry in a year's time, its strong fundamentals are likely to help the stock gain momentum going forward. 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. Humana will release its fourth-quarter and full year 2017 results on Feb 7, 2018 before the market opens.”

Several other analysts also recently weighed in on the company. BMO Capital Markets lifted their price objective on Humana from $290.00 to $300.00 and gave the company an outperform rating in a report on Friday, November 10th. Cowen restated a buy rating and issued a $285.00 price objective on shares of Humana in a report on Wednesday, December 13th. Royal Bank of Canada restated a sector perform rating and issued a $242.00 price objective (down from $245.00) on shares of Humana in a report on Thursday, November 9th. Credit Suisse Group decreased their price objective on Humana from $256.00 to $246.00 and set a neutral rating for the company in a report on Friday, November 10th. Finally, Cantor Fitzgerald restated a hold rating and issued a $230.00 price objective on shares of Humana in a report on Tuesday, December 5th. Ten equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and thirteen have issued a buy rating to the company. The stock presently has a consensus rating of Buy and a consensus price target of $260.10.

Shares of Humana (NYSE:HUM) opened at $281.87 on Friday. Humana has a 52-week low of $186.25 and a 52-week high of $282.16. The firm has a market capitalization of $39,900.82, a price-to-earnings ratio of 22.18, a PEG ratio of 1.75 and a beta of 0.88. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.35, a quick ratio of 1.61 and a current ratio of 1.61.

Humana (NYSE:HUM) last released its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, November 8th. The insurance provider reported $3.39 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $3.27 by $0.12. The firm had revenue of $13.28 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $13.41 billion. Humana had a return on equity of 15.99% and a net margin of 3.49%. The firm’s quarterly revenue was down 3.0% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period in the previous year, the company posted $3.18 earnings per share. equities research analysts predict that Humana will post 11.63 EPS for the current year.

Humana announced that its Board of Directors has authorized a share buyback program on Thursday, December 14th that allows the company to buyback $3.00 billion in outstanding shares. This buyback authorization allows the insurance provider to reacquire shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback programs are typically a sign that the company’s board believes its shares are undervalued.

The business also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, January 26th. Shareholders of record on Friday, December 29th will be paid a $0.40 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, December 28th. This represents a $1.60 annualized dividend and a yield of 0.57%. Humana’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 12.59%.

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

Several hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of HUM. Janus Henderson Group PLC grew its stake in shares of Humana by 7,848.8% during the second quarter. Janus Henderson Group PLC now owns 1,567,587 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $377,192,000 after acquiring an additional 1,547,866 shares during the last quarter. FMR LLC grew its stake in shares of Humana by 29.3% during the second quarter. FMR LLC now owns 6,530,063 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $1,571,264,000 after acquiring an additional 1,479,210 shares during the last quarter. Koch Industries Inc. purchased a new stake in shares of Humana during the second quarter worth about $404,000. Capital Research Global Investors grew its stake in shares of Humana by 9.7% during the second quarter. Capital Research Global Investors now owns 3,907,333 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $940,182,000 after acquiring an additional 346,069 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Bank of Montreal Can grew its stake in shares of Humana by 118.3% during the fourth quarter. Bank of Montreal Can now owns 501,379 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $124,378,000 after acquiring an additional 271,701 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 94.18% of the company’s stock.

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Humana Company Profile

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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