UnitedHealth shares rise after posting a 28% rise in third-quarter profit

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UnitedHealth, the largest U.S. health insurer, on Tuesday reported better-than-expected third-quarter earnings and revenue.

UnitedHealth earnings rose 28 percent to $3.41 per share. Total revenue rose 12.4 percent to $56.56 billion. Analysts on average had expected earnings of $3.29 per share on revenue of $56.34 billion, according to data from Refinitiv.

UnitedHealth expects full-year adjusted earnings per share to approach $12.80, compared with its prior forecast of between $12.50 and $12.75.

The company’s medical loss ratio, or the percentage of premiums paid out for medical services, was 81 percent in the quarter.

Ana Gupte, senior research analyst at Leerink Partners, said in a note to clients Tuesday that UnitedHealth’s Optum unit is “growing solidly” in all segments, with revenue growth doubling from a year ago.

Shares of UnitedHealth rose 3 percent in premarket trading following the report. UnitedHealth, with a market cap of more than $250 billion, has seen its shares rise more than 18 percent so far this year.

While other health players including CVS Health, Aetna and Cigna are embarking on major merger deals, UnitedHealth has doubled down on a strategy of reining in costs and expanding its medical services group.

“These results reflect our businesses delivering increased value at an accelerating pace to society and the millions of people we serve,” UnitedHealth Group CEO David S. Wichmann said in a press release.

—Reuters contributed to this report.

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