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JP Morgan upgraded its investment rating on health insurer Cigna (CI
) to overweight from neutral.
Analyst Scott Fidel said that at a recent visit to the company, Cigna provided more compelling evidence that a turnaround should prove sustainable and allow for further margin expansion over the next 2 to 3 years. He expects medical margins should remain generally stable or even increase slightly during this timeframe and the company has identified initiatives that could result in up to 200 to 250 basis points of selling, general, and administrative improvement.
He notes management also appeared more comfortable and confident in its potential for the health care business to return to more competitive footing. He ups his $6.19 2005 earnings-per-share estimate to $6.35, and his $6.82 2006 earnings-per-share estimate to $7.35.