How Healthy Are UnitedHealth and athenahealth?

Two healthcare companies, athenahealth (NASDAQ:ATHN) and UnitedHealth (NYSE:UNH), posted third quarter earnings statements this week, with both companies reporting increases in net income of close to 20 percent. UnitedHealth’s third-quarter net income rose 23 percent, while Athena reported an increase of 17.6 percent over the year-earlier quarter.

Following UnitedHealth’s positive third quarter results, the company raised its 2012 earnings forecast for the third time this year. The Minnesota-based health insurer now expects 2012 earnings of $5.20 to $5.25 per share compared to its previous forecast for $4.90 to $5 per share.

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UnitedHealth’s CEO Stephen J. Hemsley said during Tuesday’s conference call that that the company believes “our consumer education and engagement efforts and our clinical management and affordability programs are meaningfully impacting the cost curve for our businesses.” He further stated that the company expects positive growth in 2013 as well.

Athenahealth reported third quarter results after market close on Thursday. Total revenue for the three months ended September 30 amounted to $105.9 million, an increase of 26 percent over the same quarter last year, while net income for the quarter was $6.2 million, or $0.17 per diluted share. This was the company’s fifth consecutive quarter of double digit growth.

“”We are well into our pivot towards the world of coordinating care, accountable care organizations, and global risk.” said Chairman and CEO Jonathan Bush in the company’s press release. “I believe that athenahealth’s DNA is ideal for this world and that we will prosper more than ever if it continues to rise.”

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