Anthem (ANTM) Lifted to “Overweight” at Piper Jaffray Companies

Piper Jaffray Companies upgraded shares of Anthem (NYSE:ANTM) from a neutral rating to an overweight rating in a research note issued to investors on Wednesday morning, MarketBeat.com reports. They currently have $151.00 price target on the stock.

A number of other research firms also recently weighed in on ANTM. ValuEngine raised shares of Anthem from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note on Sunday, December 31st. Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of Anthem from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research note on Tuesday, January 2nd. B. Riley reaffirmed a buy rating on shares of Anthem in a research note on Wednesday, December 6th. Bank of America upped their price target on shares of Anthem from $249.00 to $254.00 and gave the stock a buy rating in a research note on Friday, November 17th. Finally, Leerink Swann reaffirmed an outperform rating on shares of Anthem in a research note on Tuesday, November 7th. Six equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and fourteen have issued a buy rating to the company. The company has an average rating of Buy and an average price target of $206.60.

Shares of Anthem (NYSE:ANTM) traded up $4.13 during trading hours on Wednesday, reaching $234.34. 1,345,404 shares of the company’s stock traded hands, compared to its average volume of 1,261,799. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.53, a quick ratio of 1.51 and a current ratio of 1.51. Anthem has a 52 week low of $142.04 and a 52 week high of $236.39. The firm has a market cap of $60,169.14, a P/E ratio of 21.19, a P/E/G ratio of 1.70 and a beta of 0.79.

Anthem (NYSE:ANTM) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, October 25th. The company reported $2.65 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $2.40 by $0.25. Anthem had a net margin of 3.35% and a return on equity of 12.97%. The business had revenue of $22.10 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $22.10 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the business posted $2.45 earnings per share. Anthem’s revenue for the quarter was up 4.6% compared to the same quarter last year. analysts expect that Anthem will post 11.97 EPS for the current year.

The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Thursday, December 21st. Investors of record on Tuesday, December 5th were issued a $0.70 dividend. This represents a $2.80 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 1.19%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Monday, December 4th. Anthem’s dividend payout ratio is presently 25.32%.

Anthem announced that its Board of Directors has initiated a share buyback program on Thursday, December 7th that allows the company to repurchase $5.00 billion in shares. This repurchase authorization allows the company to repurchase shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock repurchase programs are usually a sign that the company’s management believes its stock is undervalued.

In related news, Chairman Joseph Swedish sold 21,125 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Friday, December 1st. The shares were sold at an average price of $231.43, for a total value of $4,888,958.75. Following the completion of the sale, the chairman now directly owns 87,668 shares in the company, valued at $20,289,005.24. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at the SEC website. Also, SVP Ronald W. Penczek sold 978 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, November 7th. The stock was sold at an average price of $217.42, for a total transaction of $212,636.76. Following the completion of the sale, the senior vice president now owns 1,222 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $265,687.24. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold 44,830 shares of company stock valued at $9,880,228 over the last quarter. 0.36% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

A number of hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in ANTM. First Interstate Bank boosted its holdings in Anthem by 1,910.7% during the third quarter. First Interstate Bank now owns 563 shares of the company’s stock valued at $107,000 after acquiring an additional 535 shares during the period. Captrust Financial Advisors bought a new stake in Anthem during the second quarter valued at about $128,000. Salem Investment Counselors Inc. boosted its holdings in Anthem by 1.4% during the second quarter. Salem Investment Counselors Inc. now owns 710 shares of the company’s stock valued at $134,000 after acquiring an additional 10 shares during the period. Harding Loevner LP bought a new stake in Anthem during the second quarter valued at about $151,000. Finally, Wealthcare Advisory Partners LLC bought a new stake in Anthem during the third quarter valued at about $154,000. Institutional investors own 87.41% of the company’s stock.

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Anthem Company Profile

Anthem, Inc is a health benefits company. The Company operates through three segments: Commercial and Specialty Business, Government Business and Other. It offers a spectrum of network-based managed care plans to large and small employer, individual, Medicaid and Medicare markets. Its managed care plans include preferred provider organizations; health maintenance organizations; point-of-service plans; indemnity plans and other hybrid plans, including consumer-driven health plans; and hospital only and limited benefit products.

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