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UnitedHealth Group Tops Earnings Forecast, Boosts 2021 Guidance

Optum gains once again powered solid earnings for UnitedHealth, with the division's revenues rising 10.8% to $36.4 billion.

UnitedHealth Group  (UNH) - Get UnitedHealth Group Incorporated (DE) Report posted stronger-than-expected first-quarter earnings Thursday and boosted its 2021 profit forecast as Optum continues to power the healthcare provider's top and bottom lines.

UnitedHealth said adjusted profits for the three months ended in March came in at $5.31 a share, up 43% from the same period last year and well ahead of the Wall Street consensus forecast of $4.37 a share. Group revenue, UnitedHealth said, rose 9% to $70.2 billion, again topping analysts' estimates of a $69.3 billion tally, while Optum revenue rose 10.8% to $36.4 billion.

UnitedHealth also lifted its 2021 profit forecast, which it last published in early December, and now said it sees a range for adjusted earnings of between $18.10 and $18.60 per share, with revenue maintained in the region of $277 billion to $280 billion for the full year. 

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"The unique combined capabilities of Optum and UnitedHealthcare and the unwavering commitment of our people continue to help advance the way care is delivered, improving results for those we serve and shareholders,' said CEO said Andrew Witty in a statement.  

UnitedHealth Group shares were marked 3.3% higher in early trading following the earnings release to change hands at $387.80 each, a move that would extend the stock's six-month gain to around 18%.

UnitedHealth noted that is 2021 outlook "continues to include approximately $1.80 per share in potential net unfavorable impact to accommodate continuing COVID-19 effects, such as: testing and treatment costs; the residual impact of people having deferred care in 2020; and unemployment and other economy-driven factors."

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