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Thursday, 01/18/2024 4:43:17 PM

Thursday, January 18, 2024 4:43:17 PM

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Healthcare Stocks Slide After Humana Forecast
By: Schaeffer's Investment Research | January 18, 2024

• Humana's disappointing 2023 profit outlook is weighing on healthcare sector

• Humana stock is trading at two-year lows after the report

The healthcare sector is taking a hit after Humana Inc (NYSE:HUM) today slashed its 2023 profit outlook, citing higher-than-anticipated medical costs in the fourth quarter. UnitedHealth Group Inc (NYSE:UNH) and CVS Health Corp (NYSE:CVS) are two notable names falling after the report, as both extend an already rocky start to 2024.

At last glance, Humana stock is trading at two-year lows, down 10.9% at $398.84 -- earlier as low as $390.50 -- and on the short sell restricted (SSR) list. Since last January, HUM is down 17.5%. So far in the options pits, 20,000 calls and 23,000 puts have been exchanged, which is already 4.2 times the average daily volume. The January 2026 400-strike put is the most popular, where new positions are being opened.

Meanwhile, UnitedHealth Group stock was last seen down 2.8% at $510.04, hitting $497.96 at its lowest level today. Sinking below its 140-day moving average, which previously caught a pullback this month, the equity is currently grappling with its 200- and 320-day trendlines. Since last January, the security is up 7.1%. In the options pits, UNH is seeing three times the volume typically seen at this point, with the most activity at the January 500 put.

The shares of CVS Health stock were last seen down 4.6% at $73.42, though potential support lingers just below at the 80-day moving average, as well as former pressure at the $72 region. Today's drop has the stock on track for its seventh daily loss in the last eight sessions. Year-over-year, the equity is down 16.7%. Options traders are targeting CVS at triple the usual intraday volume as well, with new positions being opened at the most active contract, the January 70 put.

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