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UnitedHealth (UNH) to Report Q1 Earnings: What's in Store?

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Zacks Equity Research
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UnitedHealth Group Incorporated UNH is scheduled to report first-quarter 2021 results on Apr 15, before the opening bell.

Q1 Estimates

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the company’s first-quarter earnings per share is pegged at $4.41, indicating an improvement of 18.5% from the year-ago quarter's reported figure. The consensus mark for revenues stands at $69 billion, suggesting growth of 7.1% from the prior-year quarter's reported number.

Key Factors to Note

In the to-be-reported quarter, the company’s revenues are likely to reflect strong performance across its UnitedHealthcare’s community and senior benefit, and Optum businesses. Increase in the number of individuals served through Medicare Advantage business, new market gains of its Medicaid business and extension of commercial market and specialty business with physician-led plans might have contributed to the UnitedHealthcare segment’s first-quarter performance.

The company’s Optum business is likely to have benefited from constant growth in value-based care arrangements and extension of ambulatory care surgery service lines in the first quarter. Elevated acuity of the clinic-based and in-home services offered at Optum Care is also likely to have driven the segment’s performance. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Optum’s first-quarter revenues is pegged at $34.5 billion, suggesting growth of 5.2% from the prior-year quarter's reported figure.

In the to-be-reported quarter, Optum’s sub units named OptumInsight and OptumRx are likely to have gained from growing managed services and expanded script volume. Following a period of reduced care level hampering care activity volumes of the Optum segment, business activity returning to normalcy levels bodes well for revenue growth at both OptumInsight and OptumRx in the to-be-reported quarter.

Moreover, the company’s first-quarter results are likely to reflect elevated costs stemming from return of the health insurance tax, constant investments in digital and advanced technologies, higher testing and treatment costs, and assistance measures undertaken by UnitedHealth with regard to COVID-19 pandemic. This, in turn, may have dampened margins in the to-be-reported quarter.

Earnings Surprise History

The company boasts of an impressive earnings surprise history. Its bottom line beat estimates in each of the trailing four quarters, the average being 15.72%. This is depicted in the chart below:

UnitedHealth Group Incorporated Price and EPS Surprise

UnitedHealth Group Incorporated Price and EPS Surprise
UnitedHealth Group Incorporated Price and EPS Surprise

UnitedHealth Group Incorporated price-eps-surprise | UnitedHealth Group Incorporated Quote

What Our Quantitative Model Predicts

The proven Zacks model does not conclusively predict an earnings beat for UnitedHealth this time around. The combination of a positive Earnings ESP and a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), 2 (Buy) or 3 (Hold) increases the odds of an earnings beat. But that’s not the case here.

Earnings ESP: UnitedHealth has an Earnings ESP of 0.00%. You can uncover the best stocks to buy or sell before they’re reported with our Earnings ESP Filter.

Zacks Rank: UnitedHealth carries a Zacks Rank #3. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Stocks to Consider

Some stocks worth considering from the medical space with the perfect mix of elements to surpass estimates in their upcoming releases.

HCA Healthcare, Inc. HCA has an Earnings ESP of +6.97% and a Zacks Rank #2, presently.

Centene Corporation CNC has an Earnings ESP of +18.89% and a Zacks Rank #3 at present.

Anthem, Inc. ANTM has an Earnings ESP of +5.61% and a Zacks Rank #3.

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