UnitedHealth beats expectations

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UnitedHealth Group, the largest insurer in Colorado, beat analyst expectations in its first-quarter earnings.

Its net profit rose $1.19 billion or $1.03 a share, up from $984 million or 81 cents a share, at the same point a year ago. Total revenue rose to $23.2 billion, from $22 billion last year.

The company attributed its growth to new members and cost management.

Despite a more hostile regulatory environment toward health insurers, UnitedHealth Group Inc. posted first-quarter earnings today that beat analyst expectations, thanks to membership growth and cost management.

While the company’s shares have been hit since President Barack Obama signed health-reform legislation into law on March 23, Wall Street doesn’t expect a significant impact on UnitedHealth from the initiative.

“UnitedHealth’s best-in-class auxiliary businesses and unmatched scale should enable it to grow faster than its industry, which already benefits from the tail wind of health-care spending growth,” Morningstar’s Matthew Coffina said. “The threat of comprehensive health-care reform has kept investors wary of the managed-care sector, but we think the risk has been overblown.”