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UnitedHealth boosts 2019 profit outlook on strength in insurance, pharmacy benefits

Key Points
  • UnitedHealth reported a 12.7% rise in second-quarter profit on Thursday.
  • The company added more members to its health plans and revenue climbed in its Optum unit, which includes its pharmacy benefit management business.
  • The company raised its full-year adjusted earnings forecast to between $14.70 and $14.90 per share, from an earlier forecast of between $14.50 and $14.75 per share.
UnitedHealthcare office
Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

UnitedHealth beat estimates for quarterly profit and raised its 2019 earnings forecast on Thursday, buoyed by strength in the largest U.S. health insurer's pharmacy benefits management business and its insurance plans.

The company is the first health insurer to report quarterly results after the Trump administration last week nixed an ambitious proposal that would have required health insurers to pass billions of dollars in rebates they receive from drugmakers to Medicare patients.

Sales in UnitedHealth's main business of selling health insurance plans rose nearly 6% to $48.59 billion in the second quarter.

Revenue from the Optum unit, which manages prescription drug benefits and offers healthcare data analytics services, rose 13.4% to $28.03 billion.

The company raised its full-year adjusted earnings forecast to between $14.70 and $14.90 per share, from an earlier forecast of between $14.50 and $14.75 per share.

Net earnings attributable to shareholders rose to $3.29 billion, or $3.42 per share, in the three months ended June 30, from $2.92 billion, or $2.98 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, UnitedHealth earned $3.60 per share, beating the average analyst estimate of $3.45, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Total revenue rose 8% to $60.60 billion, topping estimates of $60.55 billion.

Shares of the industry bellwether rose 1.7% to $271.15 in light premarket trading.

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