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 and increase in stock price during the past year. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income.

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Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed as compared with the industry average of 18.1%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 15.8%. 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.
  • AETNA INC's earnings per share declined by 45.1% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has suffered a declining pattern of earnings per share over the past year. However, we anticipate this trend reversing over the coming year. During the past fiscal year, AETNA INC reported lower earnings of $4.78 versus $5.21 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($5.50 versus $4.78).
  • In its most recent trading session, AET has closed at a price level that was not very different from its closing price of one year earlier. This is probably due to its weak earnings growth as well as other mixed factors. Turning our attention to the future direction of the stock, it goes without saying that even the best stocks can fall in an overall down market. However, in any other environment, this stock still has good upside potential despite the fact that it has already risen in the past year.
  • The company, on the basis of change in net income from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500 and the Health Care Providers & Services industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 49.0% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from $372.60 million to $190.10 million.
  • The gross profit margin for AETNA INC is rather low; currently it is at 23.90%. It has decreased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 1.91% trails that of the industry average.

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 $16.46 billion and is part of the health care sector and health services industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 9.6, below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 6.2% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday.

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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