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UnitedHealth tops estimates, overcoming PPACA losses

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(Bloomberg) — UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE:UNH) posted fourth-quarter earnings that topped analysts’ estimates as profit surged at its technology and consulting business, helping overcome losses from Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) public exchange plans.

The insurer, which first disclosed in November that it expected losses in the “Obamacare” markets, recorded $720 million in losses from health insurance products sold through exchange system. United Health has said it may pull out of the exchange system next year.

  • Operating earnings of $1.40 a share beat the $1.38 average of analysts’ predictions compiled by Bloomberg

  • Net incomes fell to $1.25 billion, or $1.26 a share, from $1.51 billion, or $1.55, a year earlier

  • Reaffirmed 2016 forecast for operating profit $7.60 to $7.80 a share on revenue of more than $180 billion. Analysts anticipate $7.73 a share

  • Operating profit in the Optum technology and consulting unit climbed to $1.5 billion from $1 billion, helped by acquisition of pharmacy-benefits manager Catamaran Corp.

UnitedHealth is the first health insurer to report results for the last three months of 2015. Analysts and investors will analyze the numbers for signs of how the entire industry is faring. The insurer said it spent about 83 cents on medical costs in the fourth quarter for every premium dollar it took in.

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PPACA boss silent on future state-based exchange sustainability