UnitedHealth stocks get another downgrade

UnitedHealth Group shares have been falling in recent weeks, and Jefferies analysts aren't sure the trend will buck soon, according to Barron's.

UnitedHealth shares are down 10.9 percent this year. On Oct. 10, Jefferies analyst David Windley downgraded UnitedHealth to "hold" from "buy," according to a research note cited by Barron's. Mr. Windley cut price targets for six other stocks, including competitors Anthem, Cigna and Humana. 

BMO Capital Markets also downgraded UnitedHealth. Political uncertainty has fueled much of the poor performance in the S&P 500's managed healthcare subindustry group this year. The group is down 19 percent since February, while the broader S&P is up 8 percent. 

"MCO sentiment turned abruptly negative a year ago and has stubbornly remained there," Mr. Windley wrote. "The primary poison in the punch bowl, political risk, won't likely abate for at least another nine months."

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