United Health Group Inc. (NYSE:UNH) will release earnings prior to the open of the market on Thursday, April 19th. Amongst the largest of United States health insurance firms, UnitedHealth’s earnings will be eagerly watched as an indicator of the state of the industry ahead of further earnings releases later in the month. UnitedHealth has outperformed much of the sector over the past year, and continued earnings success will be important in maintaining outstanding performance.


UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE:UNH)  enters into tomorrow’s first quarter earnings announcement with an average analyst estimate EPS of $1.16, down 5.2% from last year’s first quarter earnings of $1.22. Analyst estimates range between $1.09 and $1.23.

Analyst Ratings

Currently, no major analysts rate UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE:UNH) as a sell. 75% of analysts currently rate UnitedHealth as a buy or strong buy and 25% of analysts have rated UnitedHealth as a hold.

Competitive firms

UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE:UNH)  is a leading provider of health insurance solutions in the United States. Other major firms in the same space include Aetna (AET), Wellpoint (WLP), and Humana (HUM). UnitedHealth will be the first of this group to report, well ahead of the other firms. First quarter financial releases for these firms are April 26, April 27, and April 30 respectively.

Recent price movements:

 UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE:UNH) has traded down 1.26% from this week’s open, and was off in Wednesday’s trade ahead of the earnings release after some recover on Tuesday. Overall, the firm is up 3.11% in the last month, 6.27% in the last quarter and up a strong 31.62% over the last twelve months.  In the last twelve months, UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE:UNH) has been one of the stronger firms in the insurance space, outperforming the sector average of 7.17% (last twelve months) and the S&P 500 index which has returned 4.29% over the same period.

UNH is up 1.19% in after hours trading in anticipation of the earnings release.

Earnings for 1Q were $1.31, crushing estimates. The company said that  said first-quarter profit rose due to increased enrollment while medical costs remained low.

Revenue for the company came in at $1.39 billion.

The company increased guidance and stated that 2012 earnings excluding one-time items this year will be between $4.80-$4.95 a share, Analysts had forecast an average $4.87  for the year.