UnitedHealth, Cigna stocks fall after Raymond James downgrades, citing tripledemic and policy concerns

Shares of UnitedHealth Group Inc.
fell 0.5% and Cigna Corp.
slumped 2.3% in premarket trading Monday, after Raymond James analyst John Ransom downgraded the health insurers, citing concerns that the “tripledemic” of the flu, RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) and COVID could lead to higher-than-expected medical loss ratios (MLRs). Ransom is also concerned about potential negative outcomes from upcoming policy catalysts, including Medicare Advantage Advanced Notice and risk adjustment data validation (RADV) final rule. “[T]he general view that the combination of mostly ideal factors in 2022 (lower medical trend, higher-than-expected MA rate increase and rotation into U.S.-centric defensive stocks) are unlikely to be replicated,” Ransom wrote in a note to clients. He cut his rating on both companies to outperform from strong buy and kept his stock price targets at $615 for UnitedHealth and at $370 for Cigna. UnitedHealth’s stock has gained 5.6% and Cigna shares have run up 39.0% year to date, while the SPDR Health Care Select Sector ETF

has lost 4.5% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average
has declined 7.1%.