UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) is scheduled to report its Q3 2021 results on Thursday, October 14. We expect UnitedHealth to likely post revenue and earnings below the street expectations. A continued rise in procedure volume will likely result in higher medical costs for the company. For perspective, the medical costs ratio rose to 82% in the first half of 2021, compared to 76% in the prior year period. That said, higher prescription volume and continued expansion of Optum Health post-pandemic, is likely to bolster the overall revenue growth for the company. We expect the company to navigate well based on these trends over the latest quarter. Also, our forecast indicates that UnitedHealth’s valuation is around $460 per share, which is roughly 12% above the current market price of around $408. Our interactive dashboard analysis on UnitedHealth’s Pre-Earnings has additional details.
(1) Revenues expected to be slightly below the consensus estimates
Trefis estimates UnitedHealth’s Q3 2021 net revenues to be around $70.4 billion, up 8% y-o-y, but slightly below the $71.2 billion consensus estimate. With the economy opening up gradually, the prescription volume is expected to rise, bolstering the revenue growth for the company. Employment levels have also been trending higher over the recent months, and this is likely to aid the employer & individual insurance premiums for the company. Furthermore, the company’s Optum Health segment, which provides care through local medical groups, has seen strong growth over the recent quarters, a trend expected to continue in the near term. For perspective, Optum Health revenue grew 40% y-o-y for the first half of 2020, compared to just 12% overall top-line growth for the company. Our dashboard on UnitedHealth Group Revenues offers more details on the company’s segments.
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2) EPS also likely to be below the consensus estimates
UnitedHealth’s Q3 2021 adjusted earnings per share (EPS) is expected to be $4.32 per Trefis analysis, just 2% below the consensus estimate of $4.40. UnitedHealth’s adjusted net income of $4.5 billion in Q2 2021 reflected a 34% drop from its $6.8 billion figure in the prior-year quarter. This can partly be attributed to increased medical costs over the recent quarters, compared to 2020, which benefited from deferment of elective surgeries during the lockdowns. For the full-year 2021, we expect the adjusted EPS to be higher at $18.77 compared to $16.88 in 2020.
(3) Stock price estimate higher than the current market price
Going by our UnitedHealth Group’s Valuation, with an EPS estimate of $18.77 and a P/E multiple of 24x in 2021, this translates into a price of $460, which is 12% above the current market price of around $408. While the 24x figure compares with levels of 19x – 21x seen over the recent years, we believe the P/E multiple will likely increase with better growth prospects over the coming years. UNH stock in 2021 was being weighed down partly due to investor concerns over increased focus on public health plans by the Biden administration, and its impact on UnitedHealth’s business. However, given the diversification led by Optum business, along with increased Medicare enrollments and post-pandemic recovery, the company is likely to see strong earnings growth going forward, in our view, and this should mean a revision in its P/E multiple.
Note: P/E Multiples are based on Share Price at the end of the year and reported (or expected) Earnings for the full year
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