UnitedHealth earnings growth forecast short of expectations

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The Minnetonka-based insurer UnitedHealth Group Inc. predicts 2013 earnings growth of up to 5 percent compared with its forecast for this year. But Wall Street analysts had expected even bigger growth, the Associated Press reports.

The company on Monday unveiled its initial forecast for the new year, a day before its annual investor conference in New York, the AP says. UnitedHealth said it expects 2013 earnings to range between $5.25 and $5.50 per share on $123 billion to $124 billion in revenue.

UnitedHealth's forecast seems to bolster earlier statements from the company that next year would be a difficult one, Reuters reports.

Chief Executive Officer Stephen Hemsley said on Oct. 16 that analysts’ predictions for next year appeared optimistic, given the “weak business climate and employment outlook,” Bloomberg reported.

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