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Aetna Inc Stock Buy Recommendation Reiterated (AET)

Editor's Note: TheStreet ratings do not represent the views of TheStreet's staff or its contributors. Ratings are established by computer based on metrics for performance (which includes growth, stock performance, efficiency and valuation) and risk (volatility and solvency). Companies with poor cash flow or high debt levels tend to earn lower ratings in our model.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Aetna (NYSE: AET) has been reiterated by TheStreet Ratings as a buy with a ratings score of A- . The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, attractive valuation levels, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, increase in net income and growth in earnings per share. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow.

  • EXCLUSIVE OFFER: Jim Cramer's Protégé, Dave Peltier, only buys Stocks Under $10 that he thinks could potentially double. See what he's trading today with a 14-day FREE pass

Highlights from the ratings report include:

  • Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed as compared with the industry average of 14.3%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 5.2%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has exceeded that of the S&P 500, but is less than that of the Health Care Providers & Services industry average. The net income increased by 1.8% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $490.40 million to $499.20 million.
  • The current debt-to-equity ratio, 0.43, is low and is below the industry average, implying that there has been successful management of debt levels. Despite the fact that AET's debt-to-equity ratio is low, the quick ratio, which is currently 0.63, displays a potential problem in covering short-term cash needs.
  • AETNA INC has improved earnings per share by 13.1% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. However, we anticipate underperformance relative to this pattern in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, AETNA INC increased its bottom line by earning $5.21 versus $4.14 in the prior year. For the next year, the market is expecting a contraction of 1.6% in earnings ($5.13 versus $5.21).

Aetna Inc. operates as a diversified health care benefits company in the United States. The company operates in three segments: Health Care, Group Insurance, and Large Case Pensions. Aetna has a market cap of $13.64 billion and is part of the health care sector and health services industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 7.8, below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are down 3.3% year to date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

You can view the full Aetna Ratings Report or get investment ideas from our investment research center.

--Written by a member of TheStreet Ratings Staff.

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