UnitedHealth's 2021 profit forecast misses estimates on virus hit

FILE PHOTO: The corporate logo of the UnitedHealth Group appears on the side of one of their office buildings in Santa Ana, California, U.S., April 13, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

(Reuters) - UnitedHealth Group Inc on Tuesday forecast 2021 adjusted profit below Wall Street estimates, hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and uncertainties related to it.

Health insurers benefited in the first few quarters of this year as people delayed non-urgent surgeries due to the pandemic, but that is likely to change as deferred surgeries pick up pace.

UnitedHealth, however, expects 2021 revenue to be in the range of $277 billion to $280 billion, in-line with analysts’ expectations of $278.53 billion, according to data from Refinitiv IBES.

The industry bellwether expects 2021 adjusted net earnings of $17.75 to $18.25 per share, compared with analysts’ average estimate of $18.33 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

The company said its forecast assumes a $1.80 per share hit due to treatment and testing costs related to COVID-19.

Reporting by Manas Mishra and Trisha Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli