Unitedhealth Group's CEO Discusses Q1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Unitedhealth Group (UNH)

Q1 2012 Earnings Call

April 19, 2012 8:45 am ET


Stephen J. Hemsley - Chief Executive Officer, President and Executive Director

Dan Schumacher -

Gail Koziara Boudreaux - Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of United Healthcare

Jack Larsen -

Larry C. Renfro - Executive Vice President and Chief Executive officer of Optum

Rick Jelinek -

Jeff Alter - Chief Executive of UnitedHealthcare Employer & Individual Business

David S. Wichmann - Chief Financial Officer, President of Operations and Executive Vice President


Peter H. Costa - Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division

Ana Gupte - Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., LLC., Research Division

Kevin M. Fischbeck - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division

David H. Windley - Jefferies & Company, Inc., Research Division

Sheryl R. Skolnick - CRT Capital Group LLC, Research Division

Sarah James - Wedbush Securities Inc., Research Division

Christine Arnold - Cowen and Company, LLC, Research Division

Scott J. Fidel - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

Joshua R. Raskin - Barclays Capital, Research Division

Charles Andrew Boorady - Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division

Christian Rigg - Susquehanna Financial Group, LLLP, Research Division



Good morning. I will be your conference facilitator today. Welcome to the UnitedHealth Group's First Quarter 2012 Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this call is being recorded.

Here is some important introductory information. This call contains forward-looking statements under U.S. federal securities laws. These statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that can cause actual results to differ materially from historical experience or present expectations. A description of some of the risks and uncertainties can be found in the reports that we file with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including the cautionary statements included in our current and periodic filings.

This call will also reference non-GAAP amounts. A reconciliation of the non-GAAP to GAAP amounts is available on the financial reports and SEC filings section of the company's Investors page at www.unitedhealthgroup.com. Information presented on this call is contained in the earnings release we issued this morning and in our Form 8-K dated April 19, 2012, which may be accessed from the Investors page of the company's website.

I would now like to turn the conference over to the President and Chief Executive Officer of UnitedHealth Group, Stephen Hemsley.

Stephen J. Hemsley

Good morning, and thank you for joining us. This morning, we will discuss our first quarter results and our updated outlook for 2012. As we said at the start of the year, we are committed to further improving our overall performance in 2012 with continued focus on fundamental execution and practical innovations that served to modernize the health care sector from health benefits to health services.

As we've told you consistently, we greatly respect the headwinds facing us this year. Yet longer term, fundamental market needs for improved health care access, affordability, quality and simplicity continue to grow, regardless of legal or legislative processes. These enduring needs define the dramatic market opportunities that stand before us, as we continue to evolve the growth.

Steady growth across our enterprise is evident today. It ranges from the honor of serving TRICARE beneficiaries to services and technologies supporting integrated care and forward-looking accountable care models. From significant new pharmacy management engagements to states accelerating their pursuits of managed Medicaid solutions to employee benefits for state governments and large commercial employers, from expanding Medicare market dynamics to statewide health information exchanges.

This breadth of growth reflects the diversity of the UnitedHealthcare and Optum businesses, their complementary alignment and the value of the core competencies of care management, information and technology they both leverage.

In the first quarter, UnitedHealth Group earned $1.31 per share on revenues to $27.3 billion, an increase in revenue of 7% year-over-year. The consolidated medical care ratio decreased 40 basis points year-over-year to the higher medical and rebate reserve developments and continued focus on delivering affordable, high-quality health care.

As expected, our operating cost ratio increased 80 basis points, driven by the continued strong growth in services at both UnitedHealthcare and Optum, combined with the investments we are making to advance our Optum businesses and particularly our pharmacy services. Adjusted cash flows of $1.1 billion were in line with our expectations. We ended the quarter with a debt to total capital ratio of 31% and $1.1 billion in available cash. First quarter annualized return on equity was once again strong at 19.4%.

Let's review our business results starting with UnitedHealthcare, which is accelerating its distinctive and broad-based growth pace. After adding 2.6 million consumers with medical benefits over the past 2 calendar years, UnitedHealthcare grew by another 1 million people in the past 90 days. That number is now expected to grow by another 700,000 to 900,000 through the balance of 2012, and we have successfully secured the TRICARE West contract effective mid-2013.

UnitedHealthcare is serving sophisticated employers by combining advanced technology with personalized approaches that really reach consumers and help them take more control of their health. We are advancing newer more consumer-centric products for smaller businesses that value affordability and cost control.

For consumers, UnitedHealthcare offers affordability, responsive service and an enhanced care experience through our innovative mobile technology offerings. And we offer government sponsors a reliable partner who provides cost control for their budgets and high-quality branded offerings to serve their constituents. Execution of these value propositions at the local market level, one consumer at a time, drives consistent sustained growth.

Let's review some of the details. In the first quarter, UnitedHealthcare grew fee-based benefits to serve 765,000 more consumers. We added 65,000 people in Medicaid, more than 250,000 in Medicare Advantage and 105,000 in supplemental Medicare benefits. In the process, we strengthened our business nationally with distinctive chronic care capabilities through the acquisition of XLHealth. Our Medicare Advantage business now serves 2.5 million American seniors and beneficiaries.

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