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UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH)

- NYSE
  • Dec. 2, 2013, 7:29 AM
    • Ahead of its annual investor day to tomorrow, UnitedHealth (UNH) forecasts 2014 EPS of $5.40-5.60, below consensus of $5.67.
    • The company expects revenues of $128-129B vs $132.28B.
    • UnitedHealh reaffirms 2013 guidance for EPS of $5.40-5.50 vs $5.49. (PR)
    | Comment!
  • Dec. 2, 2013, 3:18 AM
    • The White House said yesterday that it has achieved its target of improving the HealthCare.gov Web site so that it works "smoothly for the vast majority of users."
    • Officially, the portal is now operating over 90% of the time vs 40% at some points in October, the loading time is much faster, the error rate has dropped to 0.75% from 6%, and the site can handle 50,000 users at the same time.
    • However, the latter claim hasn't been tested in the real world, and some in the government reportedly aren't certain the site will hold up.
    • The back-end systems continue to be a problem, with one result being that while some consumers believe they've bought coverage from insurers, the latter don't have any records of the transactions. One detail that the government didn't provide was how many people are completing all the enrollment steps.
    • The next deadline is the middle of this month, by which time consumers need to have signed up for coverage that starts on January 1.
    • More on Obamacare.
    • Relevant company tickers: AET, HNT, HUM, UNH, WLP, MOH.
    • ETFs: XLV, XHE, VHT, FXH, IHF, IHI, IYH, PTH, RYH, PSCH, RXL, RXD, XHS.
    | 2 Comments
  • Nov. 29, 2013, 5:21 AM
    • Tomorrow is the White House's self-imposed deadline for the federal HealthCare.gov Web site to be working properly for 80% of users.
    • However, "navigators" whose job it is to help people sign up say that problems persist. It's "kind of hit and miss," says one, although "there have definitely been more hits lately than in the past." The COO of Enroll Alaska rates the site 4/10.
    • Molina Healthcare (MOH) has expressed its support. "It is easier to navigate. It's working better. It's faster," Molina said.
    • More problems for the portal could lead to millions of Americans to decide to forego buying coverage and swallow the fine instead.
    • The participation of the young and healthy is particularly important to the success of the insurance exchanges.
    • Should the problems continue, the government might come under pressure to extend the March 31 deadline for open enrollment, a move that insurers have warned could undermine the market.
    • More on Obamacare.
    • Relevant company tickers: AET, HNT, HUM, UNH, WLP
    • ETFs: XLV, XHE, VHT, FXH, IHF, IHI, IYH, PTH, RYH, PSCH, RXL, RXD, XHS.
    | 1 Comment
  • Nov. 25, 2013, 3:40 PM
    • "Because the President is looking for MCOs to work with the Administration in smoothing out the transition to the ACA, there is increasing investor perception that the sector may be to obtain some concessions in exchange for its help," UBS' A.J. Rice says, in a note on the managed care space.
    • Rice likes Aetna (AET +1.2%) and Cigna (CI +1.4%) based on "strong visibility on future growth, limited ACA exposure, [and] company specific catalysts," while UnitedHealth (UNH +0.3%) is also Buy-rated.
    • Price targets: AET, $82 (from $76); UNH, $84 (from $81); ELP $98 (from $87); HUM $95 (unchanged).
    | Comment!
  • Nov. 21, 2013, 9:29 AM
    • Aetna (AET) initiated at Overweight by Morgan Stanley. Price target is $83.
    • WellPoint (WLP) initiated at Equalweight by Morgan Stanley. See also: WLP to reaffirm guidance.
    • Cigna (CI) started at Overweight by Morgan Stanley. Price target is $100.
    • Humana (HUMstarted at Equalweight at Morgan Stanley.
    • Sorrento Therapeutics (SRNE) started at Buy at CRT Capital. Price target is $11.
    • Cardinal Health (CAH) initiated at Hold at Deutsche Bank. Price target is $66.
    • Charles River Labs (CRL) started at Hold at Deutsche Bank. Price target is $55.
    • althenahealth (ATHN) started at Buy at Deutsche Bank. Price target is $162.
    • UnitedHealth (UNH) started at Overweight at Morgan Stanley. Price target is $84.
    • Centene (CNC) started at Equalweight at Morgan Stanley.
    • Amicus Therapeutics (FOLD) cut to Neutral from Buy at Janney. Price target is now $2.50. See also: FOLD revises terms of Glaxo deal, outlines acquisition, financing.
    | Comment!
  • Nov. 21, 2013, 4:34 AM
    • President Barack Obama might have said that consumers will be allowed to keep canceled health-insurance policies for one more year, but at least five states - including New York and Washington - won't let such plans be reinstated, as they believe it would harm their exchanges.
    • Many carriers are also not allowing their customers to extend their old policies, due to time constraints and other obstacles. And those firms that may reverse the cancellations have said that premiums could rise.
    • Of the major players, Cigna (CI) could reinstate policies, while WellPoint (WLP) is analyzing the situation.
    • More on Obamacare.
    • Relevant company tickers: AET, HNT, MOH, HUM, UNH
    • ETFs: XLV, XHE, VHT, FXH, IHF, IHI, IYH, PTH, RYH, PSCH, RXL, RXD, XHS.
    | 5 Comments
  • Nov. 17, 2013, 2:08 AM
    • UnitedHealth (UNH) has cut thousands of doctors from its Medicare Advantage Plans in recent weeks, due to what the company calls "significant changes and pressures in the healthcare environment."
    • Physicians can appeal within 30 days, leaving uncertainty about which doctors are in or out of the the schemes ahead of a patient deadline to switch Medicare plans on December 7.
    • UnitedHealth's move comes as the Obama administration plans to reduce funding for Medicare Advantage in order to pay for the healthcare law.
    • Patients, doctors group and politicians are understandably not happy with UnitedHealth's actions, and the first lawsuit has already been filed.
    | 14 Comments
  • Nov. 13, 2013, 8:28 AM
    • FBR is out with new coverage on the health insurers.
    • WellPoint (WLP) is initiated at Market Perform. Price target is $93. Analyst Steven Halper is "concerned with the company's focus on the unproven exchange-based individual market."
    • UnitedHealth (UNH) initiated at Outperform. Price target is $77. At 12X FBR's 2014 estimates, Halper thinks the stock is "attractive."
    • Humana (HUM) started at Market Perform. Price target is $92. Halper says the company "faces some uncertainty with regard to commercial membership as health insurance exchanges develop."
    | Comment!
  • Nov. 12, 2013, 4:46 AM
    • Fewer than 50,000 people had managed to enroll in private insurance plans via the government's problem-plagued HealthCare.gov Web site as of last week. The number represents less than 10% of the 500,000 people that had been projected.
    • Twelve of the 14 states that are operating their own exchanges have signed up 49,000. The total is therefore also well below the initial target, which was 800,000. The Congressional Budget Office's prediction of 7M enrollments by March seems like a distant dream.
    • Major health insurers are so concerned that they want to be allowed to sign up those who are entitled to subsidies directly rather than via the federal system. However, the administration isn't keen, due to privacy concerns.
    • Insurers: Aetna (AET), WellPoint (WLP), UnitedHealth Group (UNH), Humana (HUM), Cigna (CI), Molina Healthcare (MOH).
    • ETFs: XLV, XHE, VHT, FXH, IHF, IHI, IYH, PTH, RYH, PSCH, RXL, RXD, XHS.
    | 2 Comments
  • Nov. 8, 2013, 7:08 AM
    • UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH) declares $0.28/share quarterly dividend, in line with previous.
    • Forward yield 1.61%
    • Payable Dec. 17; for shareholders of record Dec. 6; ex-div Dec. 4.
    | Comment!
  • Nov. 5, 2013, 9:26 AM
    • Monness Crespi is out with downgrades for health insurers.
    • Aetna (AET), Cigna (CI), WellPoint (WLP), UnitedHealth (UNH), and Humana (HUM) are all cut to Neutral from Buy.
    • Most of the names are trading fairly close to their respective 52-week highs.
    • % below 52-week highs as of Monday's close: WLP -3.5%, AET -8%, CI -6%, UNH -9%, HUM -5.7%
    | Comment!
  • Oct. 28, 2013, 5:12 AM
    • The Affordable Care Act appears to have so far proved beneficial to investors in health insurers.
    • Over the past year, the share prices of the five top firms in the sector — Aetna (AET), WellPoint (WLP), UnitedHealth Group (UNH), Humana (HUM) and Cigna (CI) — have increased an average of 32%, well above the S&P 500's rise of 24%.
    • Health insurers predict that their earnings will rise after Obamacare is fully in effect, as they expect to gain more customers from people being forced to buy coverage. This is seen offsetting the cost of increased regulations. A fall in healthcare costs has also helped the sector.
    | Comment!
  • Oct. 27, 2013, 7:32 PM
    • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have delegated the task of fixing HealthCare.gov to Quality Software Services, a unit of UnitedHealth (UNH), a spokesperson said late last week.
    • QSSI — which devised the site's data services hub — has "done a good job already," CMS says, and will be the general contractor going forward.
    • The UNH unit's current contract is for $83M, but as of now, "government officials [are] unable to say how much more taxpayers will pay QSSI for its new responsibilities," the Minneapolis Star Tribune notes.
    • The site should be "running smoothly for the vast majority of users" by the end of next month, according to the official tasked with overseeing the process.
    | 2 Comments
  • Oct. 18, 2013, 8:42 AM
    • Baxter (BAX) downgraded to Equalweight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley and to Market Perform from Outperform at Raymond James.
    • Sanofi (SNY) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Leerink.
    • UnitedHealth (UNH) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Cantor. Price target cut to $70 from $75.
    | Comment!
  • Oct. 18, 2013, 4:36 AM
    • The technology problems afflicting the roll-out of health-insurance exchanges seem to be even worse than thought, with insurers saying that the marketplaces are generating incorrect information.
    • "Errors include duplicate enrollments, spouses reported as children, missing data fields and suspect eligibility determinations," the WSJ writes.
    • The problems are damaging the ability of insurers to process even the small numbers of people who have signed up. "The longer this takes to resolve...the harder it will be to get people to (come back and) sign up," said Aetna (AET) CEO Mark Bertolini.
    • Other firms that could be affected include UnitedHealth (UNH), WellPoint (WLP), Humana (HUM) and Molina Healthcare (MOH).
    • The IT contractors involved include IBM (IBM), Infosys (INFY) and CGI Group (GIB).
    • ETFs: XLV, XHE, VHT, FXH, IHF, IHI, IYH, PTH, RYH, PSCH, RXL, RXD, XHS.
    | 11 Comments
  • Oct. 17, 2013, 3:37 PM
    • On the Q3 call, UnitedHealth (UNH -5.2%) said it will continue to face headwinds from Medicare Advantage and non-deductible premium tax, Wells Fargo's Peter Costa notes, adding that the company "will likely provide a wide initial range of guidance for FY14 that straddles both the low and high end of it FY13 guidance range."
    • Despite today's lackluster session, Costa maintains an Outperform rating on the shares.
    • FY14 and FY15 EPS estimates are cut to $5.80 (from $6) and $6.85 (from $7.05).
    • Price target reduced to $81-87 from $84-90.
    • More on UNH's quarter here and here
    | Comment!
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Company Description
UnitedHealth Group Inc designs products, provides services and applies technologies that improve access to health and well-being services, simplify the health care experience and make health care more affordable.
Sector: Healthcare
Country: United States