Anthem (ANTM) Cut to “Hold” at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of Anthem (NYSE:ANTM) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research report report published on Tuesday morning.

According to Zacks, “Anthem's shares have outperformed the industry in a year’s time. Its diverse product portfolio has helped in improving underwriting results. Its strategic acquisitions, divestitures and ACO arrangements pave the way for long-term growth. The company’s rising level of medical membership continues to boost the top line. Its strong capital position backs effective capital deployment via share buyback programs and regular dividend payments. Followed by strong third-quarter 2017 results, the company raised earnings guidance for 2017. However, loss incurred on public exchange business continues to bother. Also rising level of debt and expenses keep draining the margins.”

Several other research firms have also weighed in on ANTM. ValuEngine upgraded Anthem from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report on Sunday, December 31st. B. Riley restated a buy rating on shares of Anthem in a report on Wednesday, December 6th. Bank of America raised their target price on Anthem from $249.00 to $254.00 and gave the company a buy rating in a report on Friday, November 17th. Leerink Swann restated an outperform rating on shares of Anthem in a report on Tuesday, November 7th. Finally, Credit Suisse Group assumed coverage on Anthem in a report on Thursday, November 2nd. They set an outperform rating and a $234.00 target price on the stock. Six investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and fourteen have assigned a buy rating to the stock. The stock currently has a consensus rating of Buy and a consensus price target of $206.60.

Anthem (ANTM) opened at $234.34 on Tuesday. Anthem has a 1-year low of $142.04 and a 1-year high of $236.39. The company has a current ratio of 1.51, a quick ratio of 1.51 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.53. The firm has a market capitalization of $60,170.00, a PE ratio of 21.19, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.66 and a beta of 0.79.

Anthem (NYSE:ANTM) last posted its earnings results on Wednesday, October 25th. The company reported $2.65 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $2.40 by $0.25. Anthem had a return on equity of 12.97% and a net margin of 3.35%. The company had revenue of $22.10 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $22.10 billion. During the same period last year, the company earned $2.45 earnings per share. The business’s revenue was up 4.6% compared to the same quarter last year. equities research analysts anticipate that Anthem will post 11.97 EPS for the current year.

The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Thursday, December 21st. Stockholders of record on Tuesday, December 5th were paid a $0.70 dividend. The ex-dividend date was Monday, December 4th. This represents a $2.80 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 1.19%. Anthem’s payout ratio is presently 25.32%.

Anthem declared that its board has approved a share repurchase program on Thursday, December 7th that allows the company to repurchase $5.00 billion in outstanding shares. This repurchase authorization allows the company to purchase shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock repurchase programs are usually a sign that the company’s board believes its stock is undervalued.

In other news, Chairman Joseph Swedish sold 21,125 shares of Anthem stock in a transaction dated Friday, December 1st. The stock was sold at an average price of $231.43, for a total value of $4,888,958.75. Following the transaction, the chairman now directly owns 87,668 shares in the company, valued at $20,289,005.24. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at the SEC website. Also, SVP Ronald W. Penczek sold 978 shares of Anthem stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, November 7th. The stock was sold at an average price of $217.42, for a total value of $212,636.76. Following the sale, the senior vice president now directly owns 1,222 shares in the company, valued at $265,687.24. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold 44,830 shares of company stock worth $9,880,228 over the last quarter. 0.36% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

A number of hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. C M Bidwell & Associates Ltd. grew its position in Anthem by 0.5% during the second quarter. C M Bidwell & Associates Ltd. now owns 1,070 shares of the company’s stock worth $201,000 after buying an additional 5 shares in the last quarter. Salem Investment Counselors Inc. grew its position in Anthem by 1.4% during the second quarter. Salem Investment Counselors Inc. now owns 710 shares of the company’s stock worth $134,000 after buying an additional 10 shares in the last quarter. Gofen & Glossberg LLC IL grew its position in Anthem by 0.6% during the second quarter. Gofen & Glossberg LLC IL now owns 2,540 shares of the company’s stock worth $478,000 after buying an additional 15 shares in the last quarter. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Public School Empls Retrmt SYS grew its position in Anthem by 0.4% during the second quarter. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Public School Empls Retrmt SYS now owns 19,687 shares of the company’s stock worth $3,704,000 after buying an additional 76 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Bahl & Gaynor Inc. grew its position in Anthem by 11.1% during the second quarter. Bahl & Gaynor Inc. now owns 1,451 shares of the company’s stock worth $209,000 after buying an additional 145 shares in the last quarter. 87.41% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

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Anthem Company Profile

Anthem, Inc is a health benefits company. The Company operates through three segments: Commercial and Specialty Business, Government Business and Other. It offers a spectrum of network-based managed care plans to large and small employer, individual, Medicaid and Medicare markets. Its managed care plans include preferred provider organizations; health maintenance organizations; point-of-service plans; indemnity plans and other hybrid plans, including consumer-driven health plans; and hospital only and limited benefit products.

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