UnitedHealth shares gain for a second straight session on Wednesday as first-quarter revenue, earnings top estimates

UnitedHealth Group Inc’s (UNH) quarterly revenue and earnings, reported on Wednesday, exceeded Wall Street estimates, supported by strength across its businesses.

UnitedHealth shares closed higher for a second consecutive trading session in New York on Wednesday. It has also been the sharpest single-session gain since April 8th. The stock went up 4.13% ($11.18) to $281.68, after touching an intraday high at $282.91, or a price level not seen since March 11th ($285.24).

Shares of UnitedHealth Group have retreated 4.18% so far in 2020 compared with a 13.85% loss for the benchmark index, S&P 500 (SPX).

In 2019, UnitedHealth Group’s stock went up 18.01%, thus, it underperformed the S&P 500, which registered a 28.88% gain.

Total revenue went up to $64.42 billion during the first quarter from $60.31 billion in the same period a year earlier.

Net earnings attributable to shareholders were reported to have shrunk to $3.38 billion ($3.52 per share) during the quarter ended on March 31st, from $3.47 billion ($3.56 per share) a year ago.

Meanwhile, earnings per share, which exclude special items, were reported at $3.72 during the latest quarter. The figure compares with a consensus of estimates pointing to adjusted earnings of $3.67 per share.

The US health insurer maintained its earnings per share forecast for the full year, expecting adjusted net earnings between $16.25 and $16.55 per share.

“From the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, our singular priority has remained clear: the health, safety and support of the people and communities we serve, including our dedicated team of 325,000 people and the heroic members of the health care workforce, and the reliability and sustainability of health care delivery systems,” David Wichmann, UnitedHealth Group’s Chief Executive Officer, said in a press release.

Analyst stock price forecast and recommendation

According to CNN Money, the 24 analysts, offering 12-month forecasts regarding UnitedHealth Group Inc’s stock price, have a median target of $321.50, with a high estimate of $346.00 and a low estimate of $245.00. The median estimate represents a 14.14% upside compared to the closing price of $281.68 on April 15th.

The same media also reported that at least 20 out of 26 surveyed investment analysts had rated UnitedHealth Group Inc’s stock as “Buy”, while 4 – as “Hold”.

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