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Will This Downgrade Hurt UnitedHealth Group (UNH) Stock Today?

Stocks in this article: UNH

Story updated at 9:50 a.m. to reflect market activity.

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- UnitedHealth Group (UNH) was downgraded to "hold" from "buy" by Jefferies Thursday.

UnitedHealth fell -1.6% to $81.44 in morning trading.

The downgrade is a valuation call according to Jefferies analysts. The firm set a price target of $87 for the health care plan provider.

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Separately, TheStreet Ratings team rates UNITEDHEALTH GROUP INC as a Buy with a ratings score of A. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate UNITEDHEALTH GROUP INC (UNH) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, notable return on equity, good cash flow from operations, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and solid stock price performance. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • UNH's revenue growth trails the industry average of 16.9%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 4.5%. This growth in revenue does not appear to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, displayed by a decline in earnings per share.
  • The return on equity has improved slightly when compared to the same quarter one year prior. This can be construed as a modest strength in the organization. Compared to other companies in the Health Care Providers & Services industry and the overall market, UNITEDHEALTH GROUP INC's return on equity exceeds that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • Net operating cash flow has increased to $1,408.00 million or 33.71% when compared to the same quarter last year. Despite an increase in cash flow, UNITEDHEALTH GROUP INC's average is still marginally south of the industry average growth rate of 37.94%.
  • The current debt-to-equity ratio, 0.52, is low and is below the industry average, implying that there has been successful management of debt levels. Despite the fact that UNH's debt-to-equity ratio is low, the quick ratio, which is currently 0.56, displays a potential problem in covering short-term cash needs.
  • UNH's share price has surged by 26.38% over the past year, reflecting the market's general trend, despite their weak earnings growth during the last quarter. Regarding the stock's future course, although almost any stock can fall in a broad market decline, UNH should continue to move higher despite the fact that it has already enjoyed a very nice gain in the past year.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: UNH Ratings Report

STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

Editor's Note: Any reference to TheStreet Ratings and its underlying recommendation does not reflect the opinion of TheStreet, Inc. or any of its contributors including Jim Cramer or Stephanie Link.

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