UnitedHealth Group Fourth Quarter Earnings Sneak Peek

S&P 500 (NYSE:SPY) component UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH) will unveil its latest earnings tomorrow, Thursday, January 17, 2013. UnitedHealth Group designs products, provides services and applies technologies that improve access to health and well-being services.

UnitedHealth Group Earnings Preview Cheat Sheet

Wall St. Earnings Expectations: The average estimate of analysts is for profit of $1.20 per share, a rise of 2.6% from the company’s actual earnings for the same quarter a year ago. During the past three months, the average estimate has moved down from $1.22. Between one and three months ago, the average estimate moved down. It has been unchanged at $1.20 during the last month. For the year, analysts are projecting net income of $5.27 per share, a rise of 11.4% from last year.

Past Earnings Performance: The company has beaten estimates the last four quarters and is coming off a quarter where it topped forecasts by 16 cents, reporting profit of $1.50 per share against a mean estimate of net income of $1.34 per share.

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A Look Back: In the third quarter, profit rose 22.5% to $1.56 billion ($1.50 a share) from $1.27 billion ($1.17 a share) the year earlier, exceeding analyst expectations. Revenue rose 8% to $27.3 billion from $25.28 billion.

Here’s how UnitedHealth Group traded following its last earnings report 3 months ago and leading up to its upcoming earnings report this week:

UNH

Wall St. Revenue Expectations: Analysts are projecting a rise of 8.8% in revenue from the year-earlier quarter to $28.2 billion.

Stock Price Performance: Between October 16, 2012 and January 11, 2013, the stock price fell $4.06 (-7.1%), from $56.88 to $52.82. The stock price saw one of its best stretches over the last year between February 6, 2012 and February 16, 2012, when shares rose for nine straight days, increasing 6.8% (+$3.50) over that span. It saw one of its worst periods between November 6, 2012 and November 14, 2012 when shares fell for seven straight days, dropping 9.1% (-$5.14) over that span.

Key Stats:

After experiencing income increases the last three quarters, the company is hoping to keep the good news coming with this earnings announcement. Net income rose 3.1% in the first quarter and 5.5% in the second quarter before increasing again in the third quarter.

On the top line, the company is looking to build on four-straight revenue increases heading into this earnings announcement. Revenue rose 7.8% in the fourth quarter of the last fiscal year, 7.3% in the first quarter and 8% in the second quarter before increasing again in the third quarter.

Analyst Ratings: With 14 analysts rating the stock a buy, none rating it a sell and five rating the stock a hold, there are indications of a bullish stance by analysts.

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(Company fundamentals by Xignite Financials. Earnings estimates provided by Zacks)