UnitedHealth Hit With Pre-Earnings Price-Target Cut

Most analysts are bullish on the Dow stock

by Emma Duncan

Published on Apr 11, 2019 at 10:36 AM
Updated on Apr 11, 2019 at 10:36 AM

Dow stock UnitedHealth Group Inc (NYSE:UNH) is trading down 0.8% at $244.11, following a price-target cut to $292 from $310 at BMO. This new price target is still a nearly 19% premium to last night's close, and echoes a generally bullish bias among the brokerage bunch. Specifically, 16 of the 17 covering firms sport "buy" or better ratings, while UNH's average 12-month price target is perched at $306.39.

Longer term, UnitedHealth stock has been choppy on the charts since its Dec. 4 record peak of $298.34. After notching this milestone, the shares plunged all the way below $232 by Christmas Eve. A rally from here stalled near $273 in the middle of the first quarter, with UNH more recently seen in trading a triangle pattern since March.

Digging into options data, UNH's 10-day call/put volume ratio of 2.60 at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) stands in the 92nd annual percentile. What this means is that calls have been bought to open over puts at a faster-than-usual clip.

Looking ahead, UnitedHealth is slated to report earnings before the market opens this Tuesday, April 16. In seven of the past eight quarters, UNH closed higher the day after reporting, with an average 2.9% swing, regardless of direction. This time around, the options market is pricing in a 5.1% post-earnings move.

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