CORRECTED – UPDATE 2-UnitedHealth raises forecast as profit tops views

(Corrects second paragraph to remove reference to UnitedHealth
being largest health insurer by membership)

* Q1 EPS of $1.03 vs $0.69 Wall St estimate

* Sees FY EPS $3.15-$3.35
(Adds details from results)

NEW YORK, April 20 (BestGrowthStock) – UnitedHealth Group Inc’s
(UNH.N: ) first-quarter profit (Read more your timing to make a profit.) rose 21 percent, soaring past
estimates, as it benefited from improved performance in its
employer-based plans and growth in its Medicare and Medicaid
plans.

The largest U.S. health insurer by market value also raised
its full-year earnings forecast on a brighter outlook for
enrollment across its health plans.

Net income rose to $1.19 billion, or $1.03 per share, from
$984 million, or 81 cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts on average expected 69 cents per share, according
to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose 5.4 percent to $23.19 billion, ahead of the
$22.76 billion expected by analysts.

UnitedHealth is the first health insurer to report results
since an overhaul of the U.S. health system passed through
Congress.

The law — whose debate roiled shares of health insurers —
imposes new regulations and fees on the industry as it expands
insurance to 32 million Americans without coverage and ends
practices such as refusing to cover people with pre-existing
conditions.

The company spent 81.3 percent of premium revenue on
medical costs in the quarter, down from 82.4 percent a year
ago, citing a mild flu season and strong cost management.

Revenue in its unit with Medicare plans for the elderly
rose 10 percent to $9.3 billion. Revenue for its Medicaid plans
for the poor rose 22 percent to $2.3 billion.

The company projects 2010 profit of $3.15 to $3.35 per
share, up from a prior forecast of $2.90 to $3.10. Analysts
were looking for $3.08.

UnitedHealth upgraded its outlook for membership in its
commercial business serving employers. Such plans have been hit
by layoffs stemming from the weak economy as fewer people
employed mean fewer with health coverage.

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(Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and
Derek Caney)

CORRECTED – UPDATE 2-UnitedHealth raises forecast as profit tops views