Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Aetna Inc. (NYSE:AET) from a sell rating to a hold rating in a research report sent to investors on Tuesday.

According to Zacks, “Aetna’s earnings of $2.07 per share beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $2.02 and grew 9% year over year. The upside was primarily driven by higher fees and other revenues in the Health Care segment as well as lower general and administrative expenses. Aetna expects long-term growth from its Government business. Cost-reduction initiatives will also add to earnings. A strong balance sheet is another positive. Nevertheless, the company has been sued by the DoJ over the Humana acquisition. The deal, which would have enhanced Aetna’s market power, now remains shrouded in uncertainty. Aetna has also been incurring losses in its public exchange business and has been exiting exchanges to avoid losses from this business. Moreover, its membership growth remains under pressure. Increasing medical benefit ratios and cessation of share buyback are also likely to hurt margins.”

Other equities research analysts also recently issued research reports about the stock. Leerink Swann reaffirmed a buy rating and set a $135.00 price objective on shares of Aetna in a research report on Thursday, August 4th. FBR & Co reaffirmed a hold rating on shares of Aetna in a research report on Wednesday, August 17th. Credit Suisse Group AG reaffirmed a hold rating and set a $120.00 price objective on shares of Aetna in a research report on Wednesday, August 17th. Jefferies Group reaffirmed a hold rating on shares of Aetna in a research report on Tuesday, September 6th. Finally, Sanford C. Bernstein downgraded shares of Aetna from an outperform rating to a market perform rating and set a $132.00 price objective for the company. in a research report on Monday, November 14th. Seven analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and eleven have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. Aetna presently has an average rating of Buy and an average price target of $132.14.

Aetna (NYSE:AET) opened at 128.42 on Tuesday. Aetna has a one year low of $92.42 and a one year high of $128.73. The firm has a 50-day moving average of $114.09 and a 200-day moving average of $116.21. The stock has a market capitalization of $45.06 billion, a PE ratio of 18.52 and a beta of 0.54.

Aetna (NYSE:AET) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, October 27th. The company reported $2.07 earnings per share for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $2.02 by $0.05. Aetna had a net margin of 3.91% and a return on equity of 16.25%. The business earned $15.78 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $15.71 billion. During the same quarter in the prior year, the firm earned $1.90 EPS. The company’s revenue for the quarter was up 5.5% compared to the same quarter last year. On average, equities research analysts forecast that Aetna will post $8.02 earnings per share for the current year.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, October 28th. Investors of record on Thursday, October 13th were issued a dividend of $0.25 per share. This represents a $1.00 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 0.78%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Tuesday, October 11th. Aetna’s dividend payout ratio is currently 14.49%.

In related news, Director Jeffrey E. Garten sold 7,100 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Wednesday, September 7th. The shares were sold at an average price of $116.51, for a total transaction of $827,221.00. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this link. Corporate insiders own 0.90% of the company’s stock.

Several hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of the company. FTB Advisors Inc. increased its stake in Aetna by 0.7% in the third quarter. FTB Advisors Inc. now owns 880 shares of the company’s stock valued at $101,000 after buying an additional 6 shares in the last quarter. Gerstein Fisher increased its stake in Aetna by 0.3% in the second quarter. Gerstein Fisher now owns 2,414 shares of the company’s stock valued at $295,000 after buying an additional 8 shares in the last quarter. Bancorpsouth Inc. increased its stake in Aetna by 0.4% in the second quarter. Bancorpsouth Inc. now owns 2,915 shares of the company’s stock valued at $356,000 after buying an additional 13 shares in the last quarter. Simmons Bank increased its stake in Aetna by 0.8% in the third quarter. Simmons Bank now owns 1,920 shares of the company’s stock valued at $221,000 after buying an additional 15 shares in the last quarter. Finally, DAVENPORT & Co LLC increased its stake in Aetna by 0.3% in the second quarter. DAVENPORT & Co LLC now owns 5,761 shares of the company’s stock valued at $704,000 after buying an additional 18 shares in the last quarter. 90.76% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

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Aetna Company Profile

Aetna Inc is a diversified healthcare benefits company. The Company operates through three segments: Health Care, Group Insurance and Large Case Pensions. The Health Care segment’s products and services consist of medical, pharmacy benefit management services, dental, behavioral health and vision plans offered on both an insured basis and an employer-funded, or administrative services contact, basis and emerging businesses products and services, such as accountable care solutions (ACS).

5 Day Chart for NYSE:AET

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