UnitedHealth beats quarterly profit, raises earnings forecast

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© Reuters. Picture illustration of a UnitedHealth Group health insurance card in a wallet© Reuters. Picture illustration of a UnitedHealth Group health insurance card in a wallet

(Reuters) – UnitedHealth Group Inc (N:) beat analysts’ estimates for quarterly profit and raised its 2019 earnings forecast on Tuesday, benefiting from strength in its core business of selling health plans and its pharmacy benefits unit.

Shares of the largest U.S. health insurer rose 2% in light premarket trading.

UnitedHealth raised its full-year adjusted earnings forecast to between $14.90 to $15 per share, from an earlier forecast of between $14.70 and $14.90.

Revenue from the health insurance business rose 4.7% to $48.11 billion in the third quarter, while Optum, which includes the pharmacy benefits business, saw a 13.3% jump to $28.76 billion.

The company’s medical care ratio, or the percentage of premiums paid out for medical services, was 82.4% for the quarter, worsening from 81% last year, but in line with the average analyst estimate.

Excluding items, UnitedHealth earned $3.88 per share, beating the average analyst estimate of $3.75, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Net earnings attributable to shareholders rose to $3.54 billion, or $3.67 per share, in the three months ended Sept. 30, from $3.19 billion, or $3.24 per share, a year earlier.

Total revenue rose 6.7% to $60.35 billion, beating estimates of $59.79 billion.

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