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Bear Stearns Upgrades Health Net

Bear Stearns upgrades Health Net (HNT) to peer perform from underperform.

Analyst John Rex says he met with key Health Net execs, who reiterated 2005 guidance, provided candid assessment of drivers of company's comparatively weak historical operating results. He notes his operating concerns have often centered on what he viewed as lack of precision, organizational discipline.

He says his new CFO is putting a stamp on the company, strengthening internal controls and corporate oversight. He notes hospital recontracting is 53% finished at the end of 2004, and is to be 75% completed by the end of 2005.

Also, Rex thinks the current consolidation theme will likely provide defensiveness for Health Net.

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