UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE: UNH) is scheduled to report its third-quarter financial results Thursday before the markets open. The consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters call for $1.64 in earnings per share (EPS) on $40.18 billion in revenue. In the same period of the previous year, it posted EPS of $1.63 and $32.76 billion in revenue.
This is a top stock to buy in the rapidly consolidating managed health sector. UnitedHealth offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 800,000 physicians and care professionals, as well as 6,000 hospitals and other care facilities.
The company offers a broad spectrum of products and services through two distinct platforms: UnitedHealthcare, which provides health care coverage and benefits services, and Optum, which provides information and technology-enabled health services.
One thing UnitedHealth investors have to look forward to in this quarter is the sale of billions of dollars in debt. This deal had been telegraphed, but the various tranches are close to $10.5 billion in total debt being sold. The purpose of the offering was to complete the planned acquisition of Catamaran Corp. (NASDAQ: CTRX) for an aggregate purchase price of approximately $12.8 billion, and Catamaran shareholders have already approved this pending acquisition.
A few analysts weighed in on UnitedHealth ahead of its earnings:
- Mizuho reiterated a Buy rating with a $150 price target.
- Citigroup initiated coverage with a Buy rating and a $133 price target.
- FBR reiterated a Buy rating with a $135 price target.
- JPMorgan initiated coverage with an Overweight rating and a $150 price target.
So far in 2015, UnitedHealth is one of the top Dow stocks in terms of performance, with shares up 24% year to date. Over the past 52 weeks, shares are up 50%.
Shares of UnitedHealth were last seen trading down 1.4% at $122.26, with a consensus analyst price target of $146.45 and a 52-week trading range of $80.72 to $126.21.
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