Updated at 9:15 am EST
UnitedHealth Group (UNH) – Get Free Report posted better-than-expected fourth quarter earnings Friday, powered once again by double-digit revenue gains from its Optum division, and confirmed its full-year profit forecasts.
UnitedHealth said adjusted profits for the three months ended in September came in at $5.34 a share, up 19% from the same period last year and 17 cents ahead of the Wall Street consensus forecast.
Group revenues, UnitedHealth said, rose 12.3% to $82.8 billion, again topping analysts’ estimates of an $82.6 billion tally, while Optum revenue rose 16.5% to $47.9 billion.
UnitedHealth’s medical cost ratio, meanwhile, was pegged nearly 100 basis points lower at 82.8%, suggesting a smaller portion of its collected premiums were paid out on insurance claims.
“We expect the efforts by the people of our company that led to strong performance in 2022 will define 2023 as well, especially delivering balanced growth enterprise-wide, improving support for consumers and care providers, and investing to make high-quality care simpler, more accessible and affordable for everyone,” said CEO Andrew Witty.
UnitedHealth shares, a Dow component, were marked 1.1% lower in pre-market trading immediately following the earnings release to indicate an opening bell price of $490.25 each.
Late last year, Witty told investors that while Covid pressures in the group’s business were easing, inflation pressures, capacity constraints and a tight labor market were affecting “different parts of the (health care) system at different moments.
“So, I think this whole issue has become actually more complicated in some ways because there is more influences on what you need to think through going forward,” Witty said, as the group lowered its forecast for 2023 adjusted profits between $24.40 to $24.90 per share, with overall revenues in the region of $357 billion to $360 billion.
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