Humana (NYSE:HUM) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research note issued on Monday. The brokerage presently has a $297.00 price target on the insurance provider’s stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s price target suggests a potential upside of 10.81% from the company’s current price.

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 remains a positive. Following its strong third-quarter 2017 results, it 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. The company will release its fourth-quarter and full year 2017 results on Feb 7, 2018 before the market opens.”

Several other research firms have also recently weighed in on HUM. Jefferies Group upgraded Humana from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $221.00 price objective on the stock in a report on Friday. JPMorgan Chase & Co. cut Humana from an “overweight” rating to a “neutral” rating and set a $253.00 price objective on the stock. in a report on Monday, October 9th. Goldman Sachs Group started coverage on Humana in a report on Wednesday, January 3rd. They set a “buy” rating and a $305.00 price objective on the stock. ValuEngine cut Humana from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Tuesday, October 10th. Finally, Royal Bank of Canada reiterated a “hold” rating and set a $245.00 price objective on shares of Humana in a report on Tuesday, October 10th. Nine research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and fourteen have issued a buy rating to the company. The company has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average price target of $260.10.

Humana (NYSE HUM) opened at $268.02 on Monday. The company has a current ratio of 1.61, a quick ratio of 1.61 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.35. Humana has a 1-year low of $186.25 and a 1-year high of $271.99. The stock has a market capitalization of $38,289.36, a PE ratio of 21.09, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.70 and a beta of 0.88.

Humana (NYSE:HUM) last issued its earnings results on Wednesday, November 8th. The insurance provider reported $3.39 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $3.27 by $0.12. Humana had a return on equity of 15.99% and a net margin of 3.49%. The firm had revenue of $13.28 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $13.41 billion. During the same quarter last year, the business earned $3.18 earnings per share. The company’s revenue was down 3.0% compared to the same quarter last year. sell-side analysts expect that Humana will post 11.63 EPS for the current year.

Humana announced that its Board of Directors has initiated a share buyback plan on Thursday, December 14th that permits the company to repurchase $3.00 billion in outstanding shares. This repurchase authorization permits the insurance provider to buy shares of its stock through open market purchases. Shares repurchase plans are generally an indication that the company’s board believes its shares are undervalued.

In related news, SVP Brian P. Leclaire sold 1,679 shares of Humana stock in a transaction that occurred on 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 of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $2,432,151.36. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through this link. Also, VP Timothy S. Huval sold 1,382 shares of Humana stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, December 19th. The shares were sold at an average price of $246.04, for a total value of $340,027.28. Following the completion of the sale, the vice president now directly owns 11,557 shares in the company, valued at approximately $2,843,484.28. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last three months, insiders sold 10,115 shares of company stock worth $2,501,627. 0.80% of the stock is owned by insiders.

Several large investors have recently bought and sold shares of the business. WFG Advisors LP increased its position in shares of Humana by 4.5% during the 2nd quarter. WFG Advisors LP now owns 469 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $113,000 after purchasing an additional 20 shares during the last quarter. Nordea Investment Management AB increased its position in shares of Humana by 1.0% during the 2nd quarter. Nordea Investment Management AB now owns 7,338 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $1,766,000 after purchasing an additional 74 shares during the last quarter. Scotia Capital Inc. increased its position in shares of Humana by 4.8% during the 2nd quarter. Scotia Capital Inc. now owns 2,200 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $529,000 after purchasing an additional 100 shares during the last quarter. PNC Financial Services Group Inc. increased its position in shares of Humana by 0.5% during the 2nd quarter. PNC Financial Services Group Inc. now owns 40,084 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $9,645,000 after purchasing an additional 199 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Advantus Capital Management Inc increased its position in shares of Humana by 1.4% during the 3rd quarter. Advantus Capital Management Inc now owns 14,798 shares of the insurance provider’s stock worth $3,605,000 after purchasing an additional 203 shares during the last quarter. 94.01% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

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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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