Zacks Investment Research Upgrades Cigna (CI) to “Hold”

Cigna (NYSE:CI) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report issued to clients and investors on Monday.

According to Zacks, “Cigna’s shares have underperformed the industry in a year. The company has been witnessing increase in leverage. Suspension of share buyback and huge execution risk related to the recent deal are some of the major concerns. Its Medicare business is also expected to remain under pressure. The company has also received negative rating action from the rating agencies.  However, the company is on track to buy Express Scripts, which should raise its rank in the health insurance industry and equip it better to face stiff competition. Synergies from the acquisition should buoy the company's long-term growth potential. Its robust Global Supplemental business, growing Government business and increasing membership, and strong capital position are the other positives. A strong outlook for 2018 reflects its business strength. Moreover, it has seen the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2018 earnings being revised upward in the last 30 days.”

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CI has been the topic of several other research reports. Barclays assumed coverage on shares of Cigna in a report on Thursday, March 8th. They issued an “overweight” rating and a $235.00 price target on the stock. Oppenheimer upped their target price on shares of Cigna to $237.00 and gave the stock an “outperform” rating in a report on Friday, February 2nd. Goldman Sachs assumed coverage on shares of Cigna in a report on Wednesday, January 3rd. They issued a “neutral” rating and a $247.00 target price on the stock. Credit Suisse Group lowered their target price on shares of Cigna from $232.00 to $215.00 and set an “outperform” rating on the stock in a report on Monday, March 12th. Finally, Sanford C. Bernstein assumed coverage on shares of Cigna in a report on Tuesday, March 13th. They issued a “market perform” rating and a $194.00 target price on the stock. Five research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating, fifteen have assigned a buy rating and one has assigned a strong buy rating to the stock. The stock currently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and a consensus target price of $210.37.

Shares of Cigna stock opened at $174.38 on Monday. The firm has a market capitalization of $41,689.56, a price-to-earnings ratio of 16.67, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.03 and a beta of 0.61. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.38, a quick ratio of 0.37 and a current ratio of 0.37. Cigna has a 52-week low of $149.10 and a 52-week high of $227.13.

Cigna (NYSE:CI) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, February 1st. The health services provider reported $1.94 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.87 by $0.07. The firm had revenue of $10.53 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $10.28 billion. Cigna had a net margin of 5.38% and a return on equity of 18.84%. The business’s revenue for the quarter was up 5.9% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the previous year, the firm posted $1.87 EPS. analysts expect that Cigna will post 12.9 EPS for the current fiscal year.

In related news, EVP John M. Murabito sold 6,099 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Thursday, January 18th. The shares were sold at an average price of $220.10, for a total transaction of $1,342,389.90. Following the transaction, the executive vice president now owns 68,026 shares in the company, valued at approximately $14,972,522.60. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through this link. Also, CEO David Cordani sold 36,769 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Monday, March 5th. The stock was sold at an average price of $191.68, for a total transaction of $7,047,881.92. Following the transaction, the chief executive officer now owns 372,076 shares in the company, valued at approximately $71,319,527.68. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last quarter, insiders have sold 51,483 shares of company stock worth $10,036,180. 1.10% of the stock is owned by corporate insiders.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of the stock. Ascension Asset Management LLC acquired a new position in Cigna during the 4th quarter worth about $473,000. Eagle Asset Management Inc. lifted its position in Cigna by 13.9% during the 4th quarter. Eagle Asset Management Inc. now owns 216,769 shares of the health services provider’s stock worth $43,850,000 after buying an additional 26,440 shares in the last quarter. Schwab Charles Investment Management Inc. lifted its position in Cigna by 3.4% during the 4th quarter. Schwab Charles Investment Management Inc. now owns 904,143 shares of the health services provider’s stock worth $183,623,000 after buying an additional 29,553 shares in the last quarter. Virtu Financial LLC lifted its position in Cigna by 83.1% during the 4th quarter. Virtu Financial LLC now owns 8,296 shares of the health services provider’s stock valued at $1,685,000 after purchasing an additional 3,765 shares during the period. Finally, Wedbush Securities Inc. lifted its position in Cigna by 45.7% during the 4th quarter. Wedbush Securities Inc. now owns 2,335 shares of the health services provider’s stock valued at $474,000 after purchasing an additional 732 shares during the period. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 88.80% of the company’s stock.

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Cigna Company Profile

Cigna Corporation, a health services organization, provides insurance and related products and services in the United States and internationally. It operates through Global Health Care, Global Supplemental Benefits, Group Disability and Life, and Other Operations segments. The Global Health Care segment offers medical, dental, behavioral health, vision, and prescription drug benefit plans, as well as health advocacy programs, and other products and services to insured and self-insured customers.

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