Humana self-imposed a quiet period starting Monday until the end of July in an attempt to quell chatter that it'd an acquisition target. But the Louisville, Ky.-based health insurer stoked the flames further after it pulled out of a large industry conference.
Reports surfaced last month that Humana hired investment bank Goldman Sachs Group to explore a potential sale. Aetna and Cigna Corp. were reportedly among the interested buyers. Humana, a dominant Medicare Advantage insurer, has missed Wall Street estimates several times the past two years and is undergoing a federal probe related to its Medicare business.
Humana said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Monday that it will not discuss any significant financial items until July 29, when the insurer is scheduled to report earnings for the second quarter. “It is the company's long-standing policy not to comment on rumors or speculation regarding possible merger activity,” Humana said.
However, a Humana spokesman confirmed the company cancelled its presentation at this week's Goldman Sachs Global Healthcare Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. Humana Chief Financial Officer Brian Kane, a former Goldman Sachs executive, had been scheduled to speak.
Humana's stock price topped $219 in morning trading, up more than 1%, and leveled off around $216.38 in the early afternoon. Shares are up more than 21% since it was reported Humana was looking to sell.
Leerink Partners analyst Ana Gupte believes Aetna would benefit most from a Humana deal financially, although Cigna and Anthem would also see advantages depending on Humana's price. If Humana is sold, a buyer would likely pay $35 billion to $45 billion, based on recent financial metrics.
Aetna, Anthem and Cigna are all scheduled to speak at the Goldman Sachs conference Wednesday.