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WellPoint, Inc. (WLP), UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH), Aetna Inc. (AET), & CIGNA Corporation (CI): Is Obama’s Home State Balking at Obamacare?

The investment impact
The health-care industry as a whole has performed strongly this year, with each of the aforementioned companies outperforming the S&P 500 year to date.

WellPoint, Inc. (WLP), UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH), Aetna Inc. (AET), & CIGNA Corporation (CI): Is Obama's Home State Balking at Obamacare?Source: YCharts.

WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE:WLP) is up about 30% and is trading just below its 52-week high, suggesting that the market has little concern over the company’s stance toward the new law. UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE:UNH) offers a similar dividend yield at 1.8% but has been the laggard of the group thus far this year. While U.S. Treasury rates have increased somewhat, the 1.9% dividend yield is still an attractive sweetener for either of these stocks.

Aetna Inc. (NYSE:AET), which is also up about 30% this year, is pushing its own model of care, called Patient-Centered Medical Homes. Under the model, a team of physicians is more actively involved with patients to take a proactive approach and better address ongoing needs. The approach seems to have potential and could give Aetna Inc. (NYSE:AET) an alternative edge.

While CIGNA Corporation (NYSE:CI) is the second best performing stock of the group, it offers a dividend yield of only 0.10%. It’s also the most expensive on a price-to-earnings basis, trading near 15.5, while its peers are all below 13, and as low as 9.3 for WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE:WLP). Given the significant run the overall market has experienced, the downside protection offered by other options is preferable to CIGNA Corporation (NYSE:CI).

Generally, while health insurers have been strong this year, the real success of Obamacare in driving new customers to each of these companies will probably drive performance later in the year. The interplay between federal and state control could ultimately prove costly to these companies, but until the first deadlines passes, shifts may occur that change the landscape. Critical factors to watch will include the number of new policies generated by the law and the relative profitability — should a disparity exist — between state- and federal-run exchanges.

The article Is Obama’s Home State Balking at Obamacare? originally appeared on

Fool contributor Doug Ehrman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE:UNH) and WellPoint and owns shares of WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE:WLP).

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