Analyst Upgrades: MasterCard Inc, Under Armour Inc, and UnitedHealth Group Inc.

Analysts upwardly revised their ratings on MA, UA, and UNH

by Alex Eppstein

Published on Dec 3, 2014 at 9:27 AM
Updated on Apr 20, 2015 at 5:32 PM

Analysts are weighing in today on credit card issue MasterCard Inc (NYSE:MA), athletic apparel producer Under Armour Inc (NYSE:UA), and health care company UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE:UNH). Here's a quick roundup of today's bullish brokerage notes on MA, UA, and UNH.

  • Following yesterday's dividend and buyback news, MA received a price-target hike to $100 from $96.50 at Buckingham Research, which also underscored its "buy" rating. On the charts, the credit card stock has performed solidly, adding 16.3% year-over-year to rest at $87.69. More recently, MasterCard Inc has outperformed the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) by 12.6 percentage points during the last two months. Nevertheless, seven brokerage firms still maintain "hold" or worse opinions on the shares, and the equity's consensus 12-month price target of $92.29 is just a stone's throw away from present trading levels. In other words, another round of bullish brokerage notes could be in the cards, potentially providing tailwinds.

  • Canaccord Genuity boosted its price target on UA to $93 from $80, and also highlighted its "buy" recommendation. This doesn't come as much of a surprise, considering the stock has tacked on more than 71% since this time last year to rest at $69.47. However, short sellers aren't sold on Under Armour Inc, with 7.6% of the security's float dedicated to short interest -- which would take more than six sessions to cover, at UA's typical daily trading volume. In other words, if the shares continue to power their way higher, they could get an additional lift from short-covering activity.

  • Finally, UNH CEO Stephen Hemsley offered up encouraging forward guidance yesterday, prompting a rush of bullish analyst attention. In fact, no fewer than 11 brokerage firms upped their price targets, with Susquehanna lifting its forecast to $115 from $110 -- the loftiest expectation of the bunch. Technically speaking, UnitedHealth Group Inc. has added 32.1% year-to-date to rest at $99.45, and hit a record high at the century mark on Tuesday. Still, short-term options traders have shown a distinct preference for UNH puts over calls, per the stock's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 2.61. Not only does this reading indicate put open interest nearly triples call open interest among options expiring in the next three months, it also sits just 3 percentage points shy of a 12-month acme. A capitulation among these skeptical bettors could provide UNH with a tailwind.

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