Estimates for Humana Inc. (HUM - Free Report) have been revised upward over the past 30 days, reflecting analysts’ confidence in the stock. The stock has seen the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2018 and 2019 earnings being raised 0.9% and 2.3% to $13.98 and $16.98, respectively.
Humana is one of the largest health care plan providers in the United States. Shares of this Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) health, maintenance organization have rallied 17%, outperforming the industry's gain of 7.8%.
The stock carries an impressive VGM Score of A. Here V stands for Value, G for Growth and M for Momentum with the score being a weighted combination of all three factors. Backtested results show that stocks with a favorable VGM Score of A or B coupled with a bullish Zacks Rank offer the best investment bets.
Let’s focus on the factors that make Humana a stock to retain in the portfolio to reap greater returns.
Raised Guidance: Followed by strong first-quarter 2018 results, Humana lifted guidance for 2018. The company expects 2018 adjusted EPS guidance between $13.70 and $14.10, up from the prior guidance of $13.50-$14. For 2018, Humana expects total revenues within the $55.8-$56.4 billion band, depicting a 4.3% increase over $53.8 billion in 2017. An upbeat view instills confidence in the company’s ability to perform well in a highly regulated and competitive industry.
Strong Performing Medicare Business: Humana’s Medicare business has been performing sturdily over the past several quarters, banking on initiatives that have resulted in a favorable prior-period medical claims development and a lower current-year utilization. The company’s bullish guidance for Individual Medicare Advantage membership (to grow 0.18-2 million members), Group Medicare Advantage membership and Stand Alone PDP membership reflect the segment’s growth potential.
Effective Capital Deployment: Humana boasts a healthy balance sheet. With 25% dividend hike in April, the metric witnessed a five-year CAGR of 13%. Also, while the company has exhausted a $1-billion accelerated share repurchase program in the first quarter, it targets $500 million in buybacks in the second half of 2018. These aspects make the stock an attractive pick for yield-seeking investors.
Growth Projections: The Zacks Consensus Estimate for current-year earnings per share is pegged at $13.98, representing a year-over-year increase of 19.4% on 4.6% higher revenues of $56.2 billion.
For 2019, the consensus mark for earnings per share is pegged at $16.98 on $60.7 billion revenues, translating into a respective 21.5% and 8% year-over-year rise.
Humana has expected long-term earnings per share growth of 13.8%, better than the industry average of 13.2%.
Positive Earnings Surprise History: The company boasts an encouraging earnings surprise history, exceeding the Zacks Consensus Estimate in each of the trailing nine quarters with an average beat of 5.18%. This trend of consecutive estimate beats denotes the company’s operational excellence.
Other Stocks to Consider
Some other top-ranked stocks from the HMO industry are Anthem, Inc. (ANTM - Free Report) , WellCare Health Plans, Inc. (WCG - Free Report) and Triple-S Management Corporation (GTS - Free Report) , each carrying a Zacks Rank of 2. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
Anthem operates as a health benefits company in the United States. It pulled off an average four-quarter positive earnings surprise of 7.22%.
WellCare Health offers government-sponsored managed care services. It delivered an average four-quarter beat of 51.7%.
Triple-S Management provides a portfolio of managed care and related products in the commercial, Medicare and Medicaid markets in Puerto Rico, the United States. It came up with an average four-quarter beat of 260.65%.
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