Digital health company WebMD Health Corp. is not negotiating a sale despite a media report that tagged UnitedHealth Group and Walgreens Boots Alliance as possible suitors, WebMD said in a statement Thursday.
The terse denial comes hours after the Financial Times said health insurer UnitedHealth and pharmacy chain Walgreens were looking to buy WebMD, which is best known for its online health advice and publications. WebMD also has a contract with the CMS to provide information about the Affordable Care Act.
Spokespeople for UnitedHealth and Walgreens responded with statements that their companies don't comment on rumor or speculation.
WebMD could fetch a price tag of almost $2.4 billion on the open market, Cowen & Co. analyst Charles Rhyee wrote in an investor note Thursday. He also said a deal would make sense for both Walgreens and UnitedHealth. Walgreens already works with WebMD on mobile device and website projects. UnitedHealth could integrate WebMD into its highly profitable and growing Optum subsidiary with the goal of better engaging patients and providers, Rhyee said.
WebMD's stock soared more than 22% in 2015, ending at $48.30. The stock was riding even higher the past few days due to the sale speculation, but it was hammered down by more than 9% in early afternoon trading Thursday.