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UnitedHealth profit beats and it raises 2018 outlook


(Reuters) - Inc, the largest U.S. health insurer, on Tuesday posted quarterly profit that beat estimates as it kept medical costs within expectations despite the added demand for services due to a strong and raised its 2018 outlook.

Shares of UnitedHealth rose 2.9 percent to $237 in premarket trading.

said in a research note that he believed the earnings beat came from the Optum business, which includes its pharmacy benefit manager, data analysis and physician groups.

UnitedHealth has added more doctors, urgent care centers and surgery centers through a series of acquisitions.

UnitedHealth's medical care ratio, or the percentage of premiums paid out for medical services, improved to 81.4 percent from 82.4 percent a year earlier.

The company raised its full-year adjusted earnings forecast to a range of $12.40 to $12.65 per share from a range of $12.30 to $12.60.

The has gone through a number of big takeover deals in the past year as companies consider how to stay competitive.

Recent deals include insurer Aetna Inc's $69 billion merger with and smaller rival acquisition of Express Scripts Holding Co, the largest U.S. independent pharmacy benefit manager, for $54 billion.

UnitedHealth's net earnings rose to $2.84 billion, or $2.87 per share, in the first quarter ended March 31 from $2.17 billion, or $2.23 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned $3.04 per share.

Total revenue rose 13.3 percent to $55.19 billion.

Analysts, on average, expected earnings of $2.89 per share on revenue of $54.86 billion, according to Thomson I/B/E/S.

(Reporting by Caroline Humer in New York and Tamara Mathias in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta, and Jeffrey Benkoe)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, April 17 2018. 18:06 IST