third-quarter earnings inched up 1% in a rare performance that failed to trump Wall Street expectations, and the nation's largest health insurer gave a less-than-reassuring vibe to investors by narrowing its 2013 forecast instead of raising it.
The Minnetonka, Minn.-based company said Thursday that it raised the bottom end of its previous forecast for 2013 earnings by a nickel to $5.40 to $5.50 per share. UnitedHealth hasn't changed the top end of that forecast since it made its first prediction for the year last November. Analysts polled by FactSet expect $5.52 per share for 2013.
Shares of UnitedHealth, which investors sent to a record high last month, fell $1.19, or 1.6 percent, to $74 in premarket trading about 2½ hours before the market opening.
UnitedHealth earned $1.57 billion, or $1.53 per share, in the quarter that ended Sept. 30. That's up from $1.56 billion, or $1.50 per share, a year ago. Revenue jumped 12 percent to $30.62 billion.