Universal Health Services (UHS) Cut to “Sell” at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research cut shares of Universal Health Services (NYSE:UHS) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research report report published on Friday morning.

According to Zacks, “Universal Health’s shares have underperformed the industry in a year’s time. It 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. A Zacks Rank #4 and an Earnings ESP of -1.14% makes us inconclusive of its earnings surprise as it reports fourth quarter results on Feb 27. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for fourth quarter is pegged at $2.34, representing 17% year-over-year growth. Nevertheless, its 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 brokerages have also weighed in on UHS. UBS Group started coverage on Universal Health Services in a research note on Thursday, November 15th. They issued a buy rating and a $156.00 target price on the stock. Leerink Swann cut their price objective on Universal Health Services from $140.00 to $135.00 and set an outperform rating for the company in a report on Monday, October 29th. Citigroup cut their price objective on Universal Health Services from $145.00 to $140.00 and set a buy rating for the company in a report on Monday, October 29th. Barclays cut their price objective on Universal Health Services from $135.00 to $130.00 and set an equal weight rating for the company in a report on Monday, October 29th. Finally, Stephens started coverage on Universal Health Services in a report on Monday, January 14th. They issued an equal weight rating and a $134.00 price objective for the company. Two equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, five have issued a hold rating and eight have given a buy rating to the stock. The stock currently has an average rating of Hold and an average price target of $137.86.



Shares of NYSE UHS opened at $131.49 on Friday. The stock has a market capitalization of $12.16 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 17.46, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.29 and a beta of 1.07. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.68, a quick ratio of 1.01 and a current ratio of 1.09. Universal Health Services has a twelve month low of $109.37 and a twelve month high of $139.63.

The business also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, March 15th. Investors of record on Friday, March 1st will be issued a dividend of $0.10 per share. This represents a $0.40 annualized dividend and a yield of 0.30%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, February 28th. Universal Health Services’s dividend payout ratio is presently 5.31%.

Universal Health Services announced that its Board of Directors has authorized a stock repurchase plan on Monday, December 17th that authorizes the company to buyback $500.00 million in shares. This buyback authorization authorizes the health services provider to purchase up to 4.5% of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback plans are often a sign that the company’s board of directors believes its stock is undervalued.

A number of hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of UHS. Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund boosted its holdings in Universal Health Services by 11,078.5% during the 4th quarter. Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund now owns 3,222,767 shares of the health services provider’s stock valued at $28,000 after acquiring an additional 3,193,937 shares during the period. Doyle Wealth Management purchased a new stake in Universal Health Services during the 4th quarter valued at about $58,000. MERIAN GLOBAL INVESTORS UK Ltd purchased a new stake in Universal Health Services during the 4th quarter valued at about $93,000. Pearl River Capital LLC purchased a new stake in Universal Health Services during the 4th quarter valued at about $93,000. Finally, Fifth Third Bancorp boosted its holdings in Universal Health Services by 1,013.4% during the 3rd quarter. Fifth Third Bancorp now owns 1,080 shares of the health services provider’s stock valued at $138,000 after acquiring an additional 983 shares during the period. Institutional investors own 89.62% of the company’s stock.

Universal Health Services Company Profile

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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