NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Health insurance giant Humana (HUM) is seeing a big run up in its stock following reports it might be sold. But analysts are divided over how much the company is actually worth.
Humana shot up more than 20% on Friday after The Wall Street Journal reported the company's interest in a possible sale. That prompted speculation that other health insurance giants like Aetna (AEG) and Cigna (CI) might be possible buyers, while smaller companies like WellCare Health Plans (WCG) and Centene (CNC) could be potential takeover targets as well.
"I think it's very unlikely that the deal won't get consummated," said Ana Gupte, a senior research analyst with Leerink Partners. "I believe that Humana's franchise is very attractive, and the policy environment has become terrific for Medicare."
Humana has a current market value of $32 billion, while Aetna stock is valued at $41 billion and Cigna at $37 billion.
Humana was trading slightly higher Monday at $215 a share. Cantor Fitzgerald reaffirmed a buy rating for the stock and lifted its price target by more than 40%, to $230.
"We are raising out price target to reflect the group's revaluation and HUM's position as the insurer most focused on Medicare Advantage," analysts said. Humana had 3.2 million Medicare Advantage members in the first quarter, compared with 1.4 million for Anthem (ANTM) and 1.2 million for Aetna, the analysts said.