FILE - This Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012, file photo, shows a portion of the UnitedHealth Group Inc.'s campus in Minnetonka, Minn. UnitedHealth Group reports financial results Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

UnitedHealth shares move higher on earnings beat

January 15, 2019 - 7:06 am

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — UnitedHealth's fourth-quarter earnings slid 16 percent from last year, when federal tax cuts helped the nation's largest health insurer, but the performance still came in well above analyst expectations.

The insurer and health care services provider also reaffirmed on Tuesday its 2019 forecast for adjusted earnings of between $14.40 and $14.70 per share.

Analysts expect $14.62 per share, according to FactSet.

In the fourth quarter, operating earnings jumped nearly 23 percent, to $2.7 billion, for the company's Optum segment, which has a large pharmacy benefit management business and also runs a growing number of clinics and urgent care and surgery centers. The company's insurance side, which generates more revenue but thinner profits, had flat operating earnings of $1.8 billion.

UnitedHealth Group Inc. earned $3.04 billion in the quarter that ended Dec. 31, with adjusted earnings of $3.28 per share. That was 8 cents better than industry analysts expected, according to a survey by Zacks Investment Research.

Total revenue of $58.42 billion also topped the $57.94 billion expected on Wall Street.

Shares of the Minnetonka, Minnesota, company edged up 1.6 percent to $252 before the opening bell.

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Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on UNH at https://www.zacks.com/ap/UNH

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