UnitedHealth Earnings Jump 31%

UnitedHealth Group (UNH) said Tuesday its second-quarter profit rose 31% as revenue increased 7%, led by increases in UnitedHealthcare risk-based products, Medicaid membership and Health Services businesses. The company, which beat Wall Street expectations, raised its full-year forecast.

The health insurer said it earned $1.1 billion, or 99 cents per share, up from $859 million, or 73 cents per share, during the same period last year. Revenue grew by $1.6 billion, or 7%, from $21.66 to $23.26 billion.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters forecast earnings of 75 cents per share on revenue of $23 billion.

Stephen J. Hemsley, president and CEO, said, "The growth performances of both of our business platforms -- Health Benefits and Health Services -- are the result of our continued focus on fundamental execution and practical innovation on behalf of our customers. We believe our market share in both business groups is increasing, due to the quality of our innovative offerings, distinctive service and the consistent value we bring to customers."

The company raised its financial outlook, and now anticipates full year 2010 revenues of approximately $93 billion and net earnings in the range of $3.40 to $3.60 per share, up from $3.15 to $3.35 per share. Analysts expected a profit of $3.33 per share and $92.18 billion in revenue.

The largest U.S. health insurer by market value is the first to report earnings in what may be a strong quarter, but until the impact of the health reform is better known, investors may be cautious.

UNH shares jumped 2.2% in recent pre-market trading to $31.50.