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Earnings preview: Strong Q4 results might lift UnitedHealth Group’s stock

UnitedHealth Group (UNH) is scheduled to report fourth-quarter 2018 earnings results on Tuesday, January 15. Analysts expect the company to report earnings of $3.22 per share on revenue of $57.9 billion. The company has beaten estimates consistently over the past four quarters and can be expected to continue the trend.

In the third quarter, UnitedHealth topped estimates for both revenue and earnings and raised its full-year outlook. Revenues grew 12.4% year-over-year to $56.6 billion, driven by strength in the UnitedHealthcare and Optum segments. Adjusted EPS grew 28% to $3.41.

The UnitedHealthcare segment saw a 12.8% increase in total revenue helped by growth in customers and higher pricing. All the divisions in this segment delivered revenue growth. The Optum segment posted an 11% growth in total revenue broadbased across all its divisions helped by growth and expansion in products and services.

UnitedHealth Group boosted by solid Q3 results and updated outlook

United is likely to see growth in segment revenues for the fourth quarter as well. The company secured contract wins for both its business units during the quarter. Two key metrics to watch out for are medical costs and medical care ratio. For the first three quarters of 2018, medical costs have continued to increase and in the third quarter, it amounted to $36.1 billion. Medical care ratio declined 40 basis points to 81% last quarter.

For full-year 2018, United has guided for GAAP EPS of $12.10 and adjusted EPS of $12.80. Over the past one month, United’s stock has dropped over 8%. If the company beats estimates, the stock could see a gain. As of 1:05 pm ET, the stock was up 0.8%.

 

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