UnitedHealth Group Inc. stock soared after the health insurer released a fourth-quarter report that showed it might be building momentum in a recession-battered industry.
The Minnetonka, Minn.-based insurer said profit fell 40% compared with the same quarter last year. But its adjusted earnings, which don't count a lawsuit settlement, matched analyst expectations.
Revenue increased 9% to $20.45 billion, surpassing Wall Street expectations.
The company told analysts it added more than 120,000 customers to its Medicare Advantage program this month.
UnitedHealth reported net income of $726 million, or 60 cents a share, compared with $1.22 billion, or 92 cents, a year earlier. Its adjusted profit of 78 cents a share met the expectations of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.
The company maintained its outlook for 2009 earnings of $2.90 to $3.15 a share.
UnitedHealth shares rose $2.14, or 8.5%, to $27.19.