UnitedHealth puts up big profit numbers in 2Q

UnitedHealth Group's second quarter earnings beat Wall Street expectations, helped by a surge in government-funded coverage, and the nation's largest health insurer hiked its 2018 forecast again.

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UnitedHealth now expects adjusted earnings to range between $12.50 and $12.75 per share. That's up from a forecast for $12.40 to $12.65 per share that the company laid out in April.

Analysts expect, on average, earnings of $12.63, according to FactSet.

The insurer added 330,000 people in the second quarter to its UnitedHealthcare Community and State business, which manages state- and federally funded Medicaid coverage for the poor and people who have disabilities. It also grew its business offering privately run versions of the federal government's Medicare program, as total enrollment advanced nearly 5 percent to 48.8 million people.

Health insurance is the biggest revenue generator for UnitedHealth. But it also has been pouring resources into its Optum segment, which provides pharmacy benefits management and technology services. It also runs a growing number of clinics and urgent care and surgery centers.

The insurer said Tuesday that operating earnings from that segment grew more than 21 percent to $1.8 billion in the second quarter.

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Net income jumped 28 percent to $2.92 billion dollars in the three months that ended June 30. Adjusted earnings totaled $3.14 per share, and total revenue grew 12 percent to $56.09 billion.

Analysts had expected per-share earnings of $3.03, according to Zacks Investment Research. Revenue matched Wall Street expectations.

Shares of UnitedHealth Group Inc., based in Minnetonka, Minnesota, have climbed 17 percent since the beginning of the year. The share price passed $250 earlier this year, setting a fresh round of new, all-time high marks.

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

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