UnitedHealth Group, the nation's largest health insurer, reported a nearly 47% surge in third-quarter earnings today, helped by widespread gains across its businesses. The company also raised its outlook for the full year.
For the three months ending Sept. 30, Minnetonka, Minn.-based UnitedHealth earned $698 million, or $1.04 per share, up from $476 million, or 77 cents per share, last year. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call expected $1 per share.
Revenues rose 36% to $9.86 billion, up from $7.24 billion last year.
"This was the strongest quarter we have experienced this year, not only in our numbers but in our growing capabilities, continued diversification, and technology, service, and quality advancement," said chairman and chief executive William McGwire.
The company said the results reflected a strong performance by all of its divisions. Revenue from the company's largest segment, Health Care Services, grew $2.5 billion, or 40%, from the same period last year, as the section added 192,000 customers of corporate or Medicare-related health plans.
In addition, UnitedHealth gained 1.5 million new customers through its acquisition of Oxford Health Plans, which closed during the quarter.
McGwire said UnitedHealth has increased earnings by 30% per quarter for five years running.
UnitedHealth now expects full-year earnings of $3.92 per share, up a nickel from its previous prediction. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call were expecting $3.87. And the company predicted 2005 earnings of $4.70 to $4.75 per share, versus consensus of $4.66. The company predicted fourth-quarter earnings of $1.07 per share.
Year-to-date, the company earned $1.85 billion, or $2.85 per share, on revenues of $26.71 billion -- up 40% from the $1.32 billion, or $2.13 per share, on revenues of $21.3 billion earned at the same time a year ago.