Healthcare Business

UnitedHealth Raises EPS Forecast as Profits Post Double-Digit Increase

Paul Ausick

UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE: UNH) reported third-quarter 2016 results before markets opened Tuesday. The health insurance and benefits management firm reported adjusted diluted quarterly earnings per share (EPS) of $2.17 on revenues of $46.29 billion. In the same period a year ago, UnitedHealth reported EPS of $1.77 on revenues of $31.8 billion. Third-quarter results also compare to the consensus estimates for EPS of $2.08 on revenues of $46.09 billion.

Total enrollment numbers increased year over year from 46.4 million to 48.09 million. Commercial enrollments grew from 29.73 million to 30.49 million. Medicare and Medicaid enrollment rose from 12.58 million to 13.64 million, and international enrollment slipped from 4.09 million to 3.97 million.

The consolidated medical care ratio fell by 0.6% to 80.3% compared with the prior year quarter. For the year to date, the ratio has dropped 0.1% to 81.3%.

UnitedHealth did not refer to its anticipated $850 million loss for the year resulting from participation in the Affordable Care Act (aka, Obamacare) health exchanges. UnitedHealth has said it will leave many of the health-exchange markets this year.

The company raised its outlook for GAAP EPS from a prior range of $7.25 to $7.40 to $7.45 and its adjusted EPS outlook from a previous range of $7.80 to $7.95 to approximately $8.00.

UnitedHealth said it has repurchased some 8.8 million shares of common stock for the year to date at a total of $1.1 billion. In the third quarter the company repurchased $137 million worth of its own shares. Dividend payments totaled $595 million in the quarter, up 25% year over year. UnitedHealth raised its dividend in the second quarter and its dividend yield at the most recent closing price was 1.87%.

In the company’s UnitedHealthcare insurance business, revenues grew by $4.4 billion (13%) year over year in the quarter. Profits also rose 13% year over year and operating margin remained unchanged at 5.7%.

The Optum health services business posted second-quarter revenues of $21.1 billion, up 2.4% year over year. Earnings from operations improved by 13%. Operating margin increased by 80 basis points year over year to 6.9%.

Shares closed up about 0.2% on Monday at $134.13, in a 52-week range of $107.51 to $144.48. The stock traded up 1.1% at $135.60 in Tuesday’s premarket session. The consensus 12-month price target was $161.95 before results were announced.