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UnitedHealth Edges Down After Fresh Guidance Partly Mitigates Profit Drop

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By Dhirendra Tripathi

Investing.com – UnitedHealth (NYSE:UNH) stock was down 0.3% in premarket Thursday, giving up earlier gains of more than 1%, after the U.S.'s largest hospital operator confirmed a slump in profit in the second quarter.

Earnings per share fell to $4.70 from $7.12 a year earlier, when the cancellation of non-emergency surgeries due to Covid-19 kept its medical expenses exceptionally low.

The number was still ahead of expectations and the company raised its full-year adjusted earnings outlook to $18.30-$18.80 per share. Revenue grew nearly 15% to $71.3 billion, some 4% ahead of forecasts. UnitedHealth expects revenue to stay buoyant as it works through the backlog of postponed procedures.

The company said COVID-19 effects where its services are needed include testing and treatment costs; the residual impact of people having deferred care in 2020; and unemployment and other economy-driven factors.

The U.S. has vaccinated more than half its population with at least one dose of the vaccine but hesitancy among those not vaccinated and the rapid spread of Delta variant of the virus are now slowing the progress made earlier.

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