Analysts Hit 2 Healthcare Stocks Ahead of Obamacare Repeal Vote

Under Armour presents a better opportunity than VF Corp, according to one brokerage firm

Sep 25, 2017 at 9:31 AM
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Analysts are weighing in on healthcare stocks Quest Diagnostics Inc (NYSE:DGX) and Tenet Healthcare Corp (NYSE:THC), as well as clothing designer VF Corp (NYSE:VFC). Here's a quick roundup of today's bearish brokerage notes on shares of DGX, THC, and VFC.

Raymond James Downgrades Quest Diagnostics Stock

Quest Diagnostics shares are down 7.1% out of the gate at $94.89, after Raymond James downgraded its outlook to "market perform" from "outperform," with the brokerage firm skeptical of new payment rates from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Additionally, Canaccord Genuity says it sees DGX as one of the "losers" of the proposed 2018 Medicare reimbursement fees (subscription required) for the Protecting Access to Medicare Act (PAMA).

Since topping out at a record high of $112.96 on July 3, shares of the diagnostic testing name have been trending lower. Today's downside has the stock on track to breach the century mark for the first time since a late-April bull gap.

This could have some options traders scrambling. The October 100 strike is currently home to peak put open interest, and data from Trade-Alert indicates the bulk of the activity came at the hands of put writers.

RBC Lowers THC Stock Price Target

Ahead of this week's latest -- and possibly final -- attempt by Republicans to repeal Obamacare, Tenet Healthcare saw its price target cut to $19 from $25 at RBC. This still represents expected upside of 16.4% to last Friday's close at $16.32, though shares of THC are trading down 0.7% this morning at $16.21. 

The stock has been a long-term underperformer, though, down 26% year-over-year -- even following a recent M&A-related boost. Some of this downside has likely been a result of increased selling pressure from shorts, with short interest more than quadrupling over the past 12 months to 33.86 million shares -- a record high amount for the hospital stock.

KeyBanc Cites 'Tactical Opportunities' for VFC Downgrade

VFC stock is down nearly 0.5% this morning at $61.84. Weighing on the retail shares is a downgrade to "sector weight" at KeyBanc Capital Markets, citing "tactical opportunities" -- particularly with rival Under Armour.

Nevertheless, it's been a pretty strong run for the shares, which are up more than 21% since skimming the $51 in mid-May. Plus, a recent pullback from the stock's Sept. 6 annual high of $64.51 found support from the 50-day moving average, a trendline that kept a lid on the shares in May.

Short sellers have been hitting the bricks amid this upside, too. Short interest fell 15.1% in the two most recent reporting periods to 21.75 million shares. This represents a low 5.5% of VFC's available float. 

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