The insurer saw full year net earnings per share rise by 18%, according to its latest earnings report.
UnitedHealth Group finished its strong 2019 with robust year-end earnings, including full year revenues of $242 billion and net earnings per share (EPS) that rose by 18%.
The Minnetonka, Minnesota–based insurer posted an adjusted EPS of $15.11 for 2019, which the company expects to rise to a range between $16.25 and $16.55 per share in 2020.
UnitedHealth Group also reported full year cash flows from operations of $18.5 billion, up 17.5% year-over-year.
The company hit its revenue projection for 2019 and now expects to produce at least $260 billion in 2020, according to a series of presentations about UnitedHealth's business strategies last month.
"The dedicated women and men of UnitedHealth Group work together each day to improve outcomes and the patient and physician experience, while making health care more affordable, enabling us to serve more people better, while positioning us for continued growth in 2020," David Wichmann, CEO of UnitedHealth Group, said in a statement.
In light of the positive earnings, UnitedHealth's stock traded up more than 3% in early trading Wednesday.
UnitedHealth again benefited from strong performances delivered by its subsidiaries, Optum and UnitedHealthcare.
UnitedHealthcare achieved revenues of $48.2 billion and earnings from operations of $2.1 billion. For the full year, UnitedHealthcare produced revenues of $193.8 billion, up 5.6% year-over-year.
Meanwhile, Optum posted revenues of $29.8 billion and earnings from operations of $3 billion. Full year revenues hit $113 billion, driven in large part by the $30.3 billion in revenues from OptumHealth, representing 25.6% year-over-year growth.
UnitedHealth spent the second half of 2019 mostly flying under the radar, at least compared to its flurry of activity during the first half of the year.
One of the most substantial moves of Q4 was the appointment of Sir Andrew Witty, CEO of Optum, as president of UnitedHealth Group.
Witty, who has led Optum since March 2018, has continued in his current role while also overseeing enterprise business development for the company.
“UnitedHealth Group produced a 14% increase in EBITDA in 2019 reflecting its success in containing medical costs, along with growth in both Medicare Advantage and Optum, its health services subsidiary," Dean Ungar, vice president of Moody's Investors Service, said in a statement. "UnitedHealth’s leverage ratio improved meaningfully during the quarter to 40.2% from 43.7%, demonstrating the company’s ability to rapidly reduce leverage organically. UnitedHealth’s results and prospects bodes well for its peers and support our stable outlook for the industry."
ADDITIONAL UNITEDHEALTH Q4 EARNINGS REPORT HIGHLIGHTS:
- UnitedHealthcare grew to serve 5.4 million Medicare Advantage members by the end of 2019, up 325,000 members year-over-year.
- Full year OptumRx revenues rose to $74.3 billion, a 6.8% year-over-year increase.
- UnitedHealth's full year dividend payments grew 18.4% to $3.9 billion, while a total of 22.4 million shares were repurchased for $5.5 billion throughout the year.
For complete financial information, review UnitedHealth's filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to include commentary from Moody's Investor Service.
Jack O'Brien is the finance editor at HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.
Photo credit: KIEV, UKRAINE - Dec 10, 2018: UnitedHealth Group Managed care company logo seen displayed on smart phone. - Image / Editorial credit: IgorGolovniov / Shutterstock.com