UnitedHealth Stock Eyes Record High After Beat-and-Raise

UNH suffered a slight pullback last week that was contained at the 100-day trendline

Managing Editor
Oct 16, 2018 at 9:29 AM
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Shares of UnitedHealth Group Inc (NYSE:UNH) are 3.7% higher in electronic trading -- and could hit a new record high today -- after the Dow name reported an adjusted third-quarter profit beat of $3.41 per share and raised its full-year earnings outlook. UnitedHealth cited an increase in health insurance members as one of the notable catalysts behind its successful quarter.

On the charts, UnitedHealth has been moving mostly higher over the past six months, though it pulled back from its Oct. 3 all-time peak of $272.07 late last week amid the broader stock market sell-off. This drop was was contained by UNH's rising 100-day moving average, which served as a line of support throughout 2017. What's more, the shares bounced sharply from here last February, and are now up 18% year-to-date.

Digging into options, the healthcare stock sports a Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.65, which ranks in the 24th annual percentile. In other words, short-term speculators are more call-heavy than usual toward UNH stock. Peak open interest in the front-month series is found at the October 280 call, though Trade-Alert suggests most of these positions were sold to open in mid-September.

Analyst sentiment, meanwhile, has been optimistic toward the blue chip. All but one of the 17 brokerage firms covering UNH maintain "buy" or "strong buy" recommendations. Plus, the stock's average 12-month price target of $295.05 comes in at a lofty 13.4% premium to last night's close at $295.05. Echoing this upbeat outlook, Piper Jaffray said this morning it would buy any weakness in the Dow stock.


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