Red Hat: S&P Gainer

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Red Hat ( RHT) was the best-performing stock in the S&P 500 on Thursday.

The S&P 500 dropped 2.26 points, or 0.16%, to 1,403.28.

Shares of Red Hat rose 19.54% to $61.43 on volume of 15.5 million, nearly 10 times the issue's trailing three-month daily average of 1.6 million.

After Wednesday's closing bell, the open source software company reported fourth-quarter earnings of $36 million, or 18 cents a share, down from year-earlier earnings of $38.2 million, or 19 cents a share.

On an adjusted basis, Red Hat earned 29 cents a share in the quarter, 2 cents ahead of Wall Street's consensus view.

The company also announced a $300 million share repurchase program on Wednesday.

The stock hit a 52-week high Thursday of $61.71. Its 52-week low of $31.77 was set on Aug. 19.

Red Hat shares trade at an estimated price-to-earnings ratio of 43X; the average for software companies is 31.3X. For comparison, both Intuit ( INTU) and Adobe Systems ( ADBE) have lower forward P/Es of 17.8X and 12.9X, respectively.

Sixteen of the 23 analysts who cover Red Hat rate it at buy. Six analysts give the stock a hold rating and one rates it at sell.

TheStreet Ratings gives Red Hat a B grade with a buy rating and $59.53 price target. The stock has risen nearly 50% year to date.

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Other top S&P performers on Thursday include:
  • Aetna (AET): The stock rose 6.53% Thursday to $49.56. The stock has increased 17.47% year to date. TheStreet Ratings gives Aetna an A+ grade with a buy rating and $61.03 price target.
  • Coventry Health Care (CVH): The stock increased 5.94% Thursday to $34.60. The stock has risen 13.93% year to date. TheStreet Ratings gives Coventry Health Care a B grade with a buy rating and $39.62 price target.
  • Sprint Nextel (S): The stock rose 5.3% Thursday to $2.98. The stock has increased 27.35% year to date. TheStreet Ratings gives Sprint Nextel a D grade and sell rating.
  • UnitedHealth Group (UNH): The stock increased 4.82% Thursday to $58.11. The stock has risen 14.66% year to date. TheStreet Ratings gives UnitedHealth Group an A+ grade with a buy rating and $70.72 price target.
  • Cigna (CI): The stock rose 4.04% Thursday to $48.97. The stock has risen 16.6% year to date. TheStreet Ratings gives Cigna an A- grade with a buy rating and $54.88 price target.
  • Humana (HUM): The stock increased 3.27% Thursday to $91.54. The stock has risen 4.49% year to date. TheStreet Ratings gives Humana an A- grade with a buy rating and $111.96M price target.
  • Cliffs Natural Resources (CLF): The stock rose 3.05% Thursday to $70.70. The stock has increased 13.39% year to date. TheStreet Ratings gives Cliffs Natural Resources a B- grade with a buy rating and $79.75 price target.
  • Family Dollar (FDO): The stock increased 2.96% Thursday to $60.09. The stock has risen 4.21% year to date. TheStreet Ratings gives Family Dollar an A- grade with a buy rating and $70.52 price target.
  • Peabody Energy (BTU): The stock rose 2.74% Thursday to $29.62. The stock has fallen 10.54% year to date. TheStreet Ratings gives Peabody Energy a C+ grade and hold rating.

-- Written by Alexandra Zendrian in New York.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Alexandra Zendrian

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