Why Aetna (AET) Stock Is Higher Today

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of Aetna Inc. (AET) are up 5.94% to $73.00 in pre-market trading after the health insurer reported 2014 first quarter results this morning.

Net income was up 36%, helped by higher membership and revenue, after acquiring Coventry Health Care in 2013.

The company raised its full-year operating earnings forecast to $6.35 to $6.55 a share from a prior view of at least $6.25 a share.

Aetna's first quarter profit was $665.5 million, or $1.82 a share, up from $490.1 million, or $1.48 a share, a year ago.

Excluding miscellaneous items, its per share operating earnings climbed to $1.98 from $1.56.

Operating revenue, which excludes net realized capital gains and losses, was up 47% to $13.97 billion.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters forecast operating earnings of $1.55 a share on revenue of $13.72 billion.

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TheStreet Ratings team rates AETNA INC as a Buy with a ratings score of A+. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate AETNA INC (AET) 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 robust revenue growth, solid stock price performance, growth in earnings per share, compelling growth in net income and attractive valuation levels. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had somewhat disappointing return on equity."

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

  • The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 10.5%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 32.8%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • Looking at where the stock is today compared to one year ago, we find that it is not only higher, but it has also clearly outperformed the rise in the S&P 500 over the same period. Although other factors naturally played a role, the company's strong earnings growth was key. 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.
  • AETNA INC reported significant earnings per share improvement 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 year. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, AETNA INC increased its bottom line by earning $5.35 versus $4.78 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($6.34 versus $5.35).
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Health Care Providers & Services industry. The net income increased by 94.0% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $190.10 million to $368.90 million.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: AET Ratings Report
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