UnitedHealth Group has released third-quarter earnings five days ahead of schedule, apparently to quell investor worries about the major health insurers exposure to the credit crisis on Wall Street.
The Minnetonka, Minn.-based insurer reported a 28% decline in profits, mostly attributed to a loss in lucrative employer-based enrollment, but posted a nearly 8% revenue increase, to $20.2 billion, meeting investor expectations.
We had small positions in issuers such as Lehman Brothers, Washington Mutual and AIG, said Stephen Hemsley, UnitedHealth Groups chief executive officer, on a conference call with investors. The company has a $20 billion investment portfolio. Our financial position is strong and we are committed to keeping it that way.
Officials said they are taking a disciplined approach to pricing and working to manage medical cost, which rose 11% in the quarter. Hemsley said he expects commercial enrollment to be down in early 2009 because of the wider economic downturn, and an 8% increase in medical cost trends next year. -- by Rebecca Vesely