UnitedHealth stock target cut by Morgan Stanley, retains overweight

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UnitedHealth stock target cut by Morgan Stanley, retains overweight

On Friday, Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS ) adjusted its outlook on shares of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH ), lowering the price target to $584 from the previous $618, while still maintaining an Overweight rating on the stock.

The reduction comes amid expectations of a challenging reporting season for Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) with ties to Medicare Advantage, driven by concerns over cost trends and the impact of the Change Healthcare (NASDAQ: CHNG ) cyberattack.

The Change HC cyberattack has introduced a layer of uncertainty, potentially affecting medical loss ratios (MLRs) by exerting upward pressure. MLRs represent the percentage of insurance premiums that are paid out for medical services, and changes in these ratios can significantly impact the financial performance of health insurers.

Morgan Stanley's revised stance also includes a downward revision of UnitedHealth's first-quarter and full-year 2024 earnings per share (EPS) estimates. Despite these adjustments, the firm reaffirms its confidence in the company with a continued Overweight rating, signaling an expectation that UnitedHealth's stock will outperform the average total return of stocks in the analyst's coverage universe over the next 12 to 18 months.

UnitedHealth Group is set to begin the earnings announcements for the sector, which are anticipated to provide further insight into the operational challenges faced by MCOs, particularly those offering Medicare Advantage plans. The reporting season is expected to shed light on the financial health of these organizations in the face of recent industry headwinds.

InvestingPro Insights

Amidst the backdrop of Morgan Stanley's revised outlook on UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH), valuable insights emerge from InvestingPro data and tips that could provide investors with a deeper understanding of the company's current position. UnitedHealth has shown resilience with a robust revenue growth of 14.64% over the last twelve months as of Q4 2023, reflecting a strong market presence. Despite recent price volatility, the company's commitment to shareholder returns is evident through a consistent dividend growth of 13.94% over the same period, and it has raised its dividend for 14 consecutive years, marking a reliable track record for income-focused investors.

InvestingPro data also shows that UnitedHealth's market capitalization stands at a substantial $419.83 billion, and while the stock trades at a P/E ratio of 18.84, it is considered a prominent player in the Healthcare Providers & Services industry. This financial stability is further supported by the company's effective cash flow management, with cash flows that can sufficiently cover interest payments. For investors seeking additional insights, there are more InvestingPro Tips available, which can be accessed through the dedicated platform for UnitedHealth Group at https://www.investing.com/pro/UNH. Using the coupon code PRONEWS24, readers can benefit from an additional 10% off a yearly or biyearly Pro and Pro+ subscription, gaining access to a wealth of strategic investment information.

As UnitedHealth Group approaches its next earnings date on April 16, 2024, these metrics and insights could prove invaluable for investors looking to make informed decisions in a sector facing multiple challenges. With 14 additional InvestingPro Tips available, investors have ample resources to understand the nuances of UnitedHealth's financial health and market positioning.

This article was generated with the support of AI and reviewed by an editor. For more information see our T&C.

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