UnitedHealth Posts Better-Than-Expected First-Quarter Earnings and Raises Full-Year Guidance


UnitedHealth Group (UNH) posted better-than-expected first-quarter earnings and revenue while the health insurer said it was raising its outlook for the full year.

The Minnetonka, Minn.-based company reported $3.73 in adjusted earnings per share for the just-ended quarter, up from $3.04 in the prior-year period and above the $3.60 expected by analysts polled by Capital IQ.

Revenue rose to $60.3 billion in the quarter, up from $55.2 billion the year before, led by gains in its UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement, Optum Rx and OptumHealth businesses. Wall Street was expecting $59.7 billion.

The company’s shares had traded more than 3% higher after the earnings report and before the market opened, but gave back the pre-market gain and was 1.5% lower at the time of writing.

UnitedHealth raised its guidance for full-year adjusted diluted earnings per share to $14.50 to $14.75, up from the $14.40 to $14.70 it affirmed in mid-January. The Capital IQ consensus is for $14.63.

“Our employees’ shared vision of improving the health of the people we serve and the performance of health systems for everyone is providing for society and driving consistent growth for our business,” Chief Executive David Wichmann said in a statement.

UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement revenue rose 12% to $21.1 billion as enrollments expanded while Optum Rx revenue advanced 11% to $17.8 on increased prescription volumes and a higher mix of specialty drugs. OptumHealth revenues jumped 17% “with diversified growth led by care delivery, behavioral health and health financial services.”

“The revenue effect from the deferral of the health insurance tax was the primary driver of the 60-basis point year-over-year increase in the consolidated medical care ratio to 82% in first-quarter 2019,” UnitedHealth said.

The company said medical costs were “well-managed and included $300 million in favorable reserve development in the quarter, consistent with the level of development reported one year ago. Day claims payable of 49 days were consistent with first quarter 2018.”

Companies: UnitedHealth Group Incorporated
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