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UnitedHealth's Q4, FY'19 earnings rise YOY

UnitedHealth Group Inc.'s fourth-quarter 2019 earnings from operations increased to $5.10 billion from $4.50 billion a year earlier.

Net earnings attributable to UnitedHealth Group common shareholders grew to $3.54 billion, or $3.68 per share, from $3.04 billion, or $3.10 per share. Adjusted attributable net earnings rose year over year to $3.75 billion, or $3.90 per share, from $3.22 billion, or $3.28 per share.

The S&P Global Market Intelligence consensus GAAP EPS estimate for the quarter was $3.58.

Total revenues came in at $60.90 billion, up from $58.42 billion a year ago, while premiums went up to $47.63 billion from $44.93 billion.

For 2019, the managed care giant pushed its earnings from operations to $19.69 billion from $17.34 billion in 2018, with both UnitedHealthcare and Optum contributing strongly.

Net earnings attributable to UnitedHealth Group common shareholders climbed year over year to $13.84 billion, or $14.33 per share, from $11.99 billion, or $12.19 per share. Adjusted attributable net earnings jumped to $14.60 billion, or $15.11 per share, from $12.66 billion, or $12.88 per share.

The S&P Global Market Intelligence consensus GAAP EPS estimate for 2019 was $14.22.

Total revenues grew to $242.16 billion from $226.25 billion, reflecting balanced, broad-based revenue growth across the businesses, according to a statement. Premiums increased to $189.70 billion from $178.09 billion.

The full-year 2019 medical care ratio of 82.5% increased from 81.6% in 2018, as the impact of the health insurance tax deferral was partially offset by improved medical cost-efficiency, the company said. Favorable medical reserve development was $270 million in the quarter, with $150 million related to 2019 and $120 million related to prior years.

The 2019 operating cost ratio of 14.5% declined from 15.1% in 2018, as the health insurance tax deferral and operating efficiencies were partially offset by business mix changes and investments in service, innovation and growth.

UnitedHealth said return on equity of 25.7% in 2019 reflected its strong overall operating performance and efficient capital structure.

The company affirmed its recently issued full-year earnings outlook for 2020, including net earnings of $15.45 to $15.75 per share and adjusted net earnings of $16.25 to $16.55 per share.

The S&P Global Market Intelligence consensus normalized EPS estimate for 2020 is $15.67.