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Citigroup Upgrades Oxford Health to Buy

Citigroup upgraded Oxford Health (OHP) to buy from hold.

According to The Wall Street Journal, WellChoice is in talks to acquire Oxford Health. Analyst Charles Boorady says he's upgrading and raising the $56 target to $70 on these expectations. He expects M&A will remain strong industrywide, and he thinks another bidder might step in.

Boorady says WellChoice might pay up to $101 per share for Oxford in an all-stock deal. The deal would be neutral to WellChoice's earnings per share, a assuming 70 basis point margin expansion from synergy. He says his $70 target is based on shares trading at 14 times his $5.05 2005 earnings per share estimate, which assumes a 40% chance of a buyout at $101. Boorady sees WellChoice itself as an attractive take-out candidate, and reiterates its buy rating on WellChoice.

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