Universal Health Services (UHS) Lowered to Sell at Zacks Investment Research

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Universal Health Services (NYSE:UHS) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research note issued to investors on Friday.

According to Zacks, “Universal Health is exposed to integration risks due to several buyouts and rising expenses over the years. Expenses have been escalating since 2013, which weigh on the company’s margins. Rising amount of debt also remains a key concern. Shares of the company have underperformed its industry in the past year. However, it’s top-line has been growing since 2013, driven by robust inorganic growth and a strong performance from both its segments — Acute Care and Behavioral Health. Acquisitions have also played an instrumental role in building Universal Health’s growth trajectory. “

A number of other research firms have also commented on UHS. UBS Group initiated coverage on Universal Health Services in a research report on Thursday, November 15th. They set a “buy” rating and a $156.00 price target on the stock. Leerink Swann dropped their price target on Universal Health Services from $140.00 to $135.00 and set an “outperform” rating on the stock in a research report on Monday, October 29th. Citigroup dropped their price target on Universal Health Services from $145.00 to $140.00 and set a “buy” rating on the stock in a research report on Monday, October 29th. Bank of America raised Universal Health Services from a “neutral” rating to a “buy” rating and raised their price target for the stock from $128.00 to $155.00 in a research report on Tuesday, September 18th. Finally, Barclays dropped their price target on Universal Health Services from $135.00 to $130.00 and set an “equal weight” rating on the stock in a research report on Monday, October 29th. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, five have assigned a hold rating and ten have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company presently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $137.31.

Shares of NYSE UHS traded down $0.45 during mid-day trading on Friday, reaching $125.22. 10,397 shares of the company’s stock were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 876,201. The firm has a market cap of $11.50 billion, a P/E ratio of 16.62, a P/E/G ratio of 1.21 and a beta of 0.98. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.68, a current ratio of 1.09 and a quick ratio of 1.01. Universal Health Services has a twelve month low of $109.37 and a twelve month high of $139.63.

Universal Health Services (NYSE:UHS) last released its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, October 25th. The health services provider reported $2.23 EPS for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $2.01 by $0.22. The company had revenue of $2.65 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $2.68 billion. Universal Health Services had a return on equity of 16.33% and a net margin of 7.89%. Equities analysts anticipate that Universal Health Services will post 9.49 EPS for the current year.

Universal Health Services declared that its board has authorized a stock buyback program on Monday, December 17th that authorizes the company to buyback $500.00 million in outstanding shares. This buyback authorization authorizes the health services provider to reacquire up to 4.5% of its shares through open market purchases. Shares buyback programs are generally a sign that the company’s leadership believes its shares are undervalued.

Several large investors have recently bought and sold shares of UHS. JPMorgan Chase & Co. increased its position in shares of Universal Health Services by 57.5% during the 3rd quarter. JPMorgan Chase & Co. now owns 3,279,863 shares of the health services provider’s stock worth $419,298,000 after purchasing an additional 1,196,760 shares during the last quarter. FMR LLC boosted its stake in shares of Universal Health Services by 16.9% during the 2nd quarter. FMR LLC now owns 4,123,674 shares of the health services provider’s stock worth $459,542,000 after acquiring an additional 596,965 shares during the period. Hexavest Inc. bought a new position in shares of Universal Health Services during the 3rd quarter worth approximately $58,945,000. Acadian Asset Management LLC boosted its stake in shares of Universal Health Services by 345.5% during the 3rd quarter. Acadian Asset Management LLC now owns 558,838 shares of the health services provider’s stock worth $71,442,000 after acquiring an additional 433,401 shares during the period. Finally, Clearbridge Investments LLC boosted its stake in shares of Universal Health Services by 313.7% during the 3rd quarter. Clearbridge Investments LLC now owns 534,952 shares of the health services provider’s stock worth $68,388,000 after acquiring an additional 405,647 shares during the period. 89.46% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

About Universal Health Services

Universal Health Services, Inc, through its subsidiaries, owns and operates acute care hospitals, outpatient facilities, and behavioral health care facilities. The company operates through Acute Care Hospital Services, Behavioral Health Care Services, and Other segments. Its hospital offer general and specialty surgery, internal medicine, obstetrics, emergency room care, radiology, oncology, diagnostic care, coronary care, pediatric services, pharmacy services, and/or behavioral health services.

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