NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- I have had a positive outlook for health care-related companies in 2014 on the prospect of new business generated through Healthcare.gov.
On March 21, I wrote, Health Care Stocks Are Soaring; Here's How to Invest in Them, and on that day, three of the eight stocks I profiled set new 2014 intraday highs. The other five set 2014 highs this week on Wednesday or Thursday.
Seven of the eight health care stocks beat or matched analysts' earnings-per-share estimates for the first quarter, but remember that open enrollment on Healthcare.gov came to an end on March 31, and so investors should consider taking some profits on recent strength.
The profiles below provide trading guidelines for the stocks in two 'crunching the numbers" tables that follow.
Aetna (AET)AET ($73.70, down 2.2% since March 20): On April 24, the company reported earnings per share at $1.98 beating analysts' estimates by 42 cents. The nation's largest health benefits company traded to an all-time intraday high at $76.71 on March 21 and went traded as low as $66.85 on April 17, testing its 200-day simple moving average, providing a buying opportunity.
The weekly chart shifts to negative given a weekly close below its five-week modified moving average at $71.80. Quarterly and semiannual value levels are $65.82 and $63.63, respectively, with a monthly risky level at $75.09.
Centene (CNC)CNC ($67.79, up 4% since March 20): On April 22, the company reported EPS at 79 cents beating analysts' estimates by 35 cents. The health care services provider traded as low as $55.11 on April 17, and then turned around on a dime, gapping above all three daily moving averages on April 22, setting an all-time intraday high at $69.04 on Thursday.
The weekly chart is positive with the five-week MMA at $63.40. Monthly and semiannual value levels are $66.88 and $59.60, respectively. Investors thus had the opportunity to buy this stock at $59.60.
CNO Financial Group (CNO)CNO ($16.71, down 13% since March 20): On April 28, the company reported EPS at 28 cents, which matched analysts' estimates. The parent of Colonial Penn and Conseco Insurance Group and Bankers Life set a multiyear intraday high at $19.33 on March 21, and declined to as low as $16.32 on Wednesday, holding its 200-day SMA at $16.41.
The weekly chart is negative with the five-week MMA at $17.38. Semiannual value levels are $15.32 and $15.12 with quarterly and monthly risky levels are $18.77 and $20.27, respectively.