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UnitedHealth posts higher Q3 earnings, lifts '17 outlook

UnitedHealth Group Inc. posted third-quarter earnings from operations of $4.09 billion, up from $3.58 billion in the year-ago quarter.

Net earnings attributable to United Health Group common shareholders for the quarter were $2.49 billion, or $2.51 per share, up from $1.97 billion, or $2.03 per share, in the prior-year quarter.

The company posted adjusted net earnings of $2.63 billion, or $2.66 per share, for the third quarter, compared with $2.11 billion, or $2.17 per share, in the third quarter of 2016.

The S&P Capital IQ consensus normalized EPS estimate for the quarter was $2.57.

Total revenues for the quarter were booked at $50.32 billion, up from $46.29 billion in the prior-year quarter. Premium revenues for the quarter increased to $39.55 billion from $36.14 billion in the year-ago period. United Health's consolidated medical ratio grew 110 basis points to 81.4% in the third quarter.

UnitedHealthcare's Affordable Care Act individual market withdrawals, combined with the ACA health insurance tax deferral, reduced consolidated revenues by approximately $1.6 billion year over year, the company said.

UnitedHealth raised its outlook for 2017 GAAP net earnings to reach $9.45 per share from the earlier forecast of $9.20 per share to $9.35 per share. It now expects adjusted net earnings to approach $10.00 per share, compared to the previous guidance of $9.75 per share to $9.90 per share.

The S&P Capital IQ consensus normalized EPS estimate for 2017 is $9.87.

As of Sept. 30, the company had repurchased 7.1 million shares year-to-date for $1.17 billion, including 660,000 shares in the third quarter.