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UPDATE 3-UnitedHealth raises 2018 profit outlook citing tax benefits

From Reuters - January 16, 2018

(Reuters) - UnitedHealth Group Inc on Tuesday raised its outlook for 2018 earnings per share by more than 16 percent due to the U.S. corporate tax cuts and said it would speed up investments in data analytics and technology to better serve consumers.

UnitedHealth is the largest U.S. health insurer and the first to report fourth-quarter earnings, which it said rose to $2.59 per share, beating analyst expectations of $2.51 per share.

We think many investors were worried there could be greater reinvestment and other offsets limiting the tax benefit and we expect the market to react favorably to the updated guidance, Evercore ISI analyst Michael Newshel said in a research note.

Shares of the largest U.S. health insurer rose about 1 percent to $231.65 in premarket trading on Tuesday after closing at $228.64 on Friday.

The company said it now expects 2018 full-year net earnings per share forecast range to be between $11.65 and $11.95, upfrom its prior forecast of $10.00 to $10.30 per share.

Excluding items, it sees 2018 earnings of $12.30 to $12.60 per share, compared to a previous outlook of $10.55 to $10.85 per share.

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