Why UnitedHealth Is Boasting Healthy Earnings

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UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE: UNH) released its most recent quarterly earnings report before the markets opened on Tuesday. The company said that it had $3.04 in earnings per share (EPS) on $55.2 billion in revenue, compared with consensus estimates of $2.91 in EPS on revenue of $54.8 billion. In the first quarter of last year, UnitedHealth said it had EPS of $2.37 and $48.72 billion in revenue.

In terms of its segments, the firm reported these first-quarter numbers:

  • UnitedHealthcare Employer & Individual revenues of $13.4 billion increased $675 million year over year, due to growth in people served over the past 12 months, increases in rates to cover expected medical cost trends and the resumption of the health insurance tax.
  • UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement grew revenues by $2.4 billion, or 14.3%, year over year to $18.9 billion in the first quarter.
  • UnitedHealthcare Community & State revenues of $10.7 billion grew $1.7 billion, or 19.2%, year over year, reflecting strong 12-month membership growth and an increasing mix of individuals with higher clinical needs.
  • UnitedHealthcare Global served 6.1 million people and grew global revenues 29.2% to $2.45 billion.
  • Optum revenues grew year over year by $2.4 billion, or 11.1%, to $23.6 billion.

Looking ahead to the 2018 full year, UnitedHealth projects that it will have EPS in the range of $12.40 to $12.65. The consensus estimates call for $12.53 in EPS on $224.55 billion in revenue for the year.

On the books, UnitedHealth cash and short-term investments totaled $22.04 billion at the end of the quarter, up from $15.49 billion at the end of the previous fiscal year.

David S. Wichmann, CEO of UnitedHealth, commented:

Through the intense focus our 285,000 colleagues bring to helping people live healthier lives and helping make the health system work better for everyone, we have grown to serve more people in more ways than ever, including through innovative uses of advanced technologies, data analytics, and modern clinical approaches that improve quality, lower cost and advance consumer and care provider satisfaction.

Shares of UnitedHealth closed Monday at $230.32, with a consensus analyst price target of $270.71 and a 52-week range of $166.65 to $250.79. Following the announcement, the stock was up 2% at $235.44 in early trading indications Tuesday.