As the nation's largest health insurer, UnitedHealth Group's earnings traditionally serve as an industry bellwether, but these days the insurance giant is also an outlier because its biggest insurance rivals are mired in antitrust issues.
With no merger-related headwinds, UnitedHealth's shares are up nearly 14 percent year to date, outperforming the health care sector, which is down nearly 4 percent for the year. By contrast, shares of Aetna are flat on the year, while its merger partner Humana's stock is down nearly 9 percent. Anthem and Cigna have also seen regulatory opposition to their proposed deal, also weighing on their stocks, which both are seeing a double-digit decline year to date.
Analysts are looking for UnitedHealth to report adjusted earnings of $2.08 per share for its third quarter on revenue of $46.1 billion, according to Thomson Reuters.
The insurer raised the lower end of its full year 2016 earnings guidance in July to $7.80 to $7.95 per share, from $7.75 to $7.95 per share.
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