UnitedHealth Group Inc. reported fourth-quarter 2018 earnings from operations of $4.50 billion, up from $3.98 billion in the prior-year quarter.
Net earnings attributable to UnitedHealth Group common shareholders were $3.04 billion, or $3.10 per share, down from $3.62 billion, or $3.65 per share, in the year-ago quarter. Adjusted net earnings, which exclude amortization-related effects and the prior-year impact of the revaluation of the company's U.S. net deferred tax liability, were $3.22 billion, or $3.28 per share, an increase from $2.56 billion, or $2.59 per share, in the fourth quarter of 2017.
The S&P Global Market Intelligence consensus normalized EPS estimate for the quarter was $3.22.
Total consolidated revenues for the most recent quarter stood at $58.42 billion, up from $52.06 billion year over year. Premiums revenue climbed to $44.93 billion from $40.38 billion.
For the full year, revenue in the UnitedHealthcare segment rose 12.4% year over year to $183.5 billion, as the company's total medical customer count rose to 49.075 million from 46.675 million. Revenues from the Optum health services business grew 11.1% to $101.28 billion for the full year. Total consolidated revenues amounted to $226.25 billion, up from $201.16 billion.
For full year 2018, UnitedHealth reported earnings from operations of $17.34 billion, up from $15.21 billion in 2017. Adjusted net earnings for 2018 were $12.66 billion, or $12.88 per share, up from $9.92 billion, or $10.07 per share, in 2017.
The S&P Global Market Intelligence consensus normalized EPS for 2018 was $12.80.
The consolidated medical care ratio was 81.6% for the full year, a year-over-year decrease of 50 basis points. The company's operating cost ratio rose by 40 basis points to 15.1%.
In 2018, the company bought back approximately 19 million shares for $4.5 billion.
UnitedHealth affirmed its outlook for 2019, including net earnings of $13.70 per share to $14.00 per share, adjusted net earnings of $14.40 per share to $14.70 per share, and cash flows from operations of $17.3 billion to $17.8 billion.
The S&P Global Market Intelligence consensus normalized EPS for 2019 is $14.64.