Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE:UNH) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research report released on Tuesday morning.

According to Zacks, “UnitedHealth issued optimistic guidance for 2017, backed by stable medical costs, higher contribution from Optum and decline in exposure from its public exchange business. The company is consistently gaining from the Medicaid and Medicare businesses. Continued growth at Optum is also leading to a diversified revenue source. The segment should see further growth from the Catamaran acquisition. Also, UnitedHealth should benefit from its capital strength and niche market position. Regular share buyback and dividend increase are other positives. But industry fees and taxes, losses on public exchange business and higher operating costs are some headwinds.”

A number of other brokerages also recently issued reports on UNH. Leerink Swann reiterated a buy rating on shares of UnitedHealth Group in a report on Wednesday, November 23rd. Credit Suisse Group AG restated an outperform rating and set a $160.00 target price (up from $155.00) on shares of UnitedHealth Group in a report on Friday, October 21st. Mizuho raised their target price on shares of UnitedHealth Group from $160.00 to $169.00 and gave the company a buy rating in a report on Wednesday, October 19th. Vetr downgraded shares of UnitedHealth Group from a buy rating to a hold rating and set a $144.66 target price for the company. in a report on Tuesday, October 18th. Finally, Jefferies Group restated a buy rating on shares of UnitedHealth Group in a report on Tuesday, August 23rd. Three research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and twenty-one have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company has a consensus rating of Buy and a consensus price target of $158.03.

UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH) opened at 156.965 on Tuesday. The firm has a market capitalization of $149.40 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 23.185 and a beta of 0.63. The stock has a 50 day moving average of $143.81 and a 200 day moving average of $139.88. UnitedHealth Group has a one year low of $107.51 and a one year high of $158.12.

UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, October 18th. The healthcare conglomerate reported $2.17 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $2.08 by $0.09. The business earned $46.30 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $46.09 billion. UnitedHealth Group had a net margin of 3.62% and a return on equity of 19.92%. The business’s revenue was up 11.6% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter last year, the firm posted $1.77 EPS. Analysts forecast that UnitedHealth Group will post $8.01 earnings per share for the current year.

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The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, December 13th. Investors of record on Friday, December 2nd will be paid a $0.625 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Wednesday, November 30th. This represents a $2.50 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 1.59%. UnitedHealth Group’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 36.93%.

In related news, Director Richard T. Burke sold 40,000 shares of UnitedHealth Group stock in a transaction on Wednesday, September 7th. The shares were sold at an average price of $135.31, for a total value of $5,412,400.00. Following the completion of the sale, the director now owns 2,003,550 shares in the company, valued at $271,100,350.50. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through this link. Also, EVP D Ellen Wilson sold 14,365 shares of UnitedHealth Group stock in a transaction on Friday, October 21st. The stock was sold at an average price of $144.18, for a total transaction of $2,071,145.70. Following the completion of the sale, the executive vice president now owns 66,635 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $9,607,434.30. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 1.65% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

Hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of the company. Hanson McClain Inc. raised its stake in shares of UnitedHealth Group by 0.4% in the second quarter. Hanson McClain Inc. now owns 895 shares of the healthcare conglomerate’s stock worth $126,000 after buying an additional 4 shares during the period. Harfst & Associates Inc. raised its stake in shares of UnitedHealth Group by 0.3% in the second quarter. Harfst & Associates Inc. now owns 2,963 shares of the healthcare conglomerate’s stock worth $418,000 after buying an additional 8 shares during the period. Beck Mack & Oliver LLC raised its stake in shares of UnitedHealth Group by 0.3% in the third quarter. Beck Mack & Oliver LLC now owns 2,708 shares of the healthcare conglomerate’s stock worth $379,000 after buying an additional 8 shares during the period. Kanaly Trust Co raised its stake in shares of UnitedHealth Group by 0.6% in the second quarter. Kanaly Trust Co now owns 1,772 shares of the healthcare conglomerate’s stock worth $250,000 after buying an additional 11 shares during the period. Finally, Burke & Herbert Bank & Trust Co. raised its stake in shares of UnitedHealth Group by 0.4% in the third quarter. Burke & Herbert Bank & Trust Co. now owns 2,877 shares of the healthcare conglomerate’s stock worth $403,000 after buying an additional 12 shares during the period. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 84.92% of the company’s stock.

UnitedHealth Group Company Profile

UnitedHealth Group Incorporated is a diversified healthcare company. The Company operates through four segments: UnitedHealthcare, OptumHealth, OptumInsight and OptumRx. The Company conducts its operations through two business platforms: health benefits operating under UnitedHealthcare and health services operating under Optum.

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