NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Shares of health care companies Aetna ( AET) and UnitedHealth Group ( UNH) hit 52-week highs on Monday. Both stocks got buy ratings from TheStreet Ratings.
Aetna The health care benefits company reported earlier this month fourth-quarter earnings of $372.6 million, or $1.02 a share, up from a year-ago profit of $215.6 million, or 53 cents a share. "Overall, this was another solid quarter for the diversifieds, and we believe guidance for the group appears highly conservative given continued low utilization trends," Oppenheimer analysts wrote in a Feb. 2 report. "We believe Aetna will perform in line with the group, and we reiterate our Perform rating." Shares of Aetna reached a 52-week high Monday of $46.50. The stock's 52-week low of $33.43 was set on Oct. 4. Aetna has a forward price-to-earnings ratio for next year of 8.23X; the average for health care providers is 21.09X. For comparison, Express Scripts ( ESRX) and Humana ( HUM) both have higher forward P/Es of 13.77X and 9.75X respectively. Of the 20 analysts who cover Aetna, 13 rated it a buy and seven gave it a hold rating. TheStreet Ratings gives Aetna an A+ grade with a buy rating and has a $60.11 price target on the shares. The stock has risen 9.67% year to date.