UnitedHealth announced today that it will pay $775 million in cash to acquire most of Fiserv's health-related businesses. UnitedHealth will take on the company's medical benefits administration, care facilitation, and overpayment recovery divisions, while Fiserv will retain its workers' comp division and CareGain tech business.

UNH says the acquisition will broaden the scale and scope of its business, as well as giving 2008 earnings per share a lift. FISV will garner $475 million of net transaction proceeds, and may see its own 2008 per-share earnings diluted by 1% to 3% depending upon reinvestment.

The shares of FISV are down sharply in early trading, giving up nearly 6% on top of yesterday's 1.8% decline. The stock has been in uptrend mode for several years, and remains perched atop its 10-month and 20-month moving averages.

Meanwhile, UNH has recently fallen below its own monthly trendlines, which have now formed a bearish cross. Option traders are rightfully skeptical of the stock's prospects; its Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio of 0.66 ranks higher than 88% of other such readings taken in the past year. Conversely, short sellers are avoiding the equity less than 0.5% of its available float has been sold short.