Analyst Upgrades Molina Healthcare Stock, Touts Turnaround Efforts

Plus, MOH stock is sending up a historical 'buy' signal

by Patrick Martin

Published on Jun 22, 2018 at 9:49 AM

Molina Healthcare, Inc. (NYSE:MOH) stock is up 3.6% to trade at $102.24 and earlier this morning touched a fresh a record high of $102.47, after Jefferies upgraded the Medicaid solutions provider to "buy" from "hold," while adding it to its franchise picks list. The brokerage firm called Molina's turnaround effort "value-enhancing," and a "playbook that a rookie quarterback could execute." 

Molina stock is on track for its fifth straight win, and in the past 14 days has only closed in the red once. Earlier this month, the shares took a strong bounce off the supportive 40-day moving average. MOH has added over 30% in 2018, and could soon explore more record highs this summer, according to data from Schaeffer's Senior Quantitative Analyst Rocky White.

Specifically, the equity's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 25.8% ranks in the 2nd percentile of its annual range. Not only does this indicate short-term options are relatively cheap, from a volatility perspective, but following the last two times MOH stock has been trading within 2% of a 52-week high while near-term volatility was so low, it averaged a one-month gain of 9.76%, with both returns positive. 

Despite all of the bullish analyst attention this week -- the company also received a price-target hike to $105 from $94 at BMO on Tuesday -- brokerages are still split on the stock. Of the 11 brokerages covering the security, six rate it a "hold" or "sell." Furthermore, the equity's average 12-month price target of $99.92 sits just below its current perch. Should the security continue to vault up the charts, more upgrades and price-target hikes could provide tailwinds.

The healthcare name is also ripe for a short squeeze. Short interest increased by almost 27% in the two most recent reporting periods to 7.88 million shares. This represents nearly 16% of MOH's total available float, and more than eight days of pent up buying power, going by average daily volumes -- revealing plenty of buying power that could come in and lift the shares.


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