Humana shares fell another 5% this week, but on Thursday posted biggest gain of 2019

Data source: Yahoo! Finance. | Graphic by Boris Ladwig

In another terrible week for health care stocks, Humana’s shares have fallen another 5% — though they finally showed some signs of life on Thursday.

In the week’s first three trading days, Humana shares fell more than 8%, closing Wednesday at $232.89, down more than $20 from the prior week’s close.

That decline came on top of a steep decline since early November that has seen Humana’s stock price drop more than $100, wiping out more than $16 billion in shareholder value.

This week things got worse — at least initially: Bespoke Investment Group said on Twitter on Wednesday that the health care sector “hasn’t underperformed the S&P 500 by this wide of a margin in a two-day span since April 2009.” The group also said that the sector was down for the year, while the tech sector had posted a gain of more than 25 percent.

As Insider reported Monday, investors appeared to be fleeing the health care sector on worries about attacks on the Affordable Care Act, some calls for Medicare-for-All and congressional inquiries into prescription drug prices, among other possible reasons.

Brett Corbin

Brett Corbin, a financial adviser with the Corbin Financial Group of Raymond James, told Insider Thursday that the health care industry’s share price decline was a result primarily of actions by federal lawmakers.

“Health care is a sector of the economy that is very vulnerable to political events,” Corbin said, “and so with recent changes in Washington, that has played a role in the overall sector’s recent struggles.”

While sector analysts remain worried about further federal government action on health care, Humana CEO Bruce Broussard recently said that he views Medicare-for-All as a “great opportunity for the industry.”

On Thursday, the week’s last trading day because of Good Friday, Humana’s shares jumped 3.35 percent, its biggest single-day gain for the year. Shares closed at $240.69, up $7.80 from Wednesday — raising Humana’s market cap by more than $1 billion — though shares were still down more than $12 for the week.

Health care stocks as a whole recovered on Thursday. Humana rivals UnitedHealth Group, Molina Healthcare and Cigna all gained more than 2%. Anthem rose 1.4%, and CVS was up a fraction of 1%, though still more than the S&P 500, which gained 0.16%.

Humana on Thursday declared a dividend of  55 cents per share, payable July 26 to stockholders of record as of June 28. The Louisville-based insurer will post first-quarter results on May 1.