Here's What You Don't Know about UnitedHealth Group, Today's Best Dow Stock

One of the Dow's latest additions has been one of the market's best stocks for the past three decades.

Feb 24, 2014 at 12:15PM

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) is having a pretty good day today, as investors seem more convinced than before that recent indications of economic weakness are more the result of bad weather than the beginning of a major downturn. The index is now up more than 1% at 12:20 p.m., with all but five components in positive territory.

One blue-chip stock, however, is running well ahead of the pack -- UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH) is leading all Dow components with a 3.2% gain this morning after news regarding the success of the health insurer's recently introduced online bill payment system. The myClaims Manager system has processed $20 million in payments to more than 50,000 health care providers, and it should help UnitedHealth streamline its operations going forward.

That's good news if you're a UnitedHealth shareholder, and you're probably well aware of the company's efforts to thrive in this new Obamacare-driven world of health care. But how much do you really know about UnitedHealth? Here are a few fascinating facts from this Dow stock's history.

UnitedHealth was founded in 1977 as United Healthcare, a holding company for the acquisition of Charter Med, which was one of the very first "health maintenance organizations," or HMOs, formed (in 1974) after the passage of the Health Maintenance Organization Act in 1973.

UnitedHealth went public on Oct. 18, 1984. If you'd bought $1,000 worth of shares on its first day of trading and reinvested all dividends, you'd have seen your investment grow to be worth more than $500,000 today:

UNH Total Return Price Chart

UNH Total Return Price data by YCharts.

UnitedHealth was the first to create and implement a pharmacy benefits business, which handles prescription drug claims at retail pharmacies. Today, more than 210 million Americans have a pharmacy benefits management, or PBM, program, and UnitedHealth remains one of the largest in the sector with its OptumRx subsidiary. The only larger publicly traded PBMs are Express Scripts (NASDAQ:ESRX) and a subsidiary of CVS Caremark (NYSE:CVS).

By 1991, when UnitedHealth graduated from over-the-counter exchanges and joined the New York Stock Exchange, its shares had already grown by 1,000%:

UNH Total Return Price Chart

UNH Total Return Price data by YCharts.

When UnitedHealth joined the Dow in 2012, it became the first health insurer component in the index's century-plus history, and was the third health care stock on the Dow. It is also the second company from the broader insurance industry to join the Dow, although it is presently nearly three times the size of earlier insurer-addition Travelers (NYSE:TRV).

With more than 85 million people on its rolls, UnitedHealth is the largest health insurer in the United States. It also claims policyholders in 125 other countries. 

Do you know any more interesting facts and figures about UnitedHealth that you think we should know? Share your knowledge with a comment in the box below.

Looking for the next long-term monster stock like UnitedHealth?
It's no secret that investors tend to be impatient with the market, but the best investment strategy is to buy shares in solid businesses and keep them for the long term. In the special free report "3 Stocks That Will Help You Retire Rich," The Motley Fool shares investment ideas and strategies that could help you build wealth for years to come. Click here to grab your free copy today.

Alex Planes holds no financial position in any company mentioned here. Add him on Google+ or follow him on Twitter @TMFBiggles for more insight into markets, history, and technology.

The Motley Fool recommends CVS Caremark, Express Scripts, and UnitedHealth Group. The Motley Fool owns shares of Express Scripts. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Money to your ears - A great FREE investing resource for you

The best way to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as “binge-worthy finance.”

Feb 1, 2016 at 5:03PM

Whether we're in the midst of earnings season or riding out the market's lulls, you want to know the best strategies for your money.

And you'll want to go beyond the hype of screaming TV personalities, fear-mongering ads, and "analysis" from people who might have your email address ... but no track record of success.

In short, you want a voice of reason you can count on.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich," rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

And one of the easiest, most enjoyable, most valuable ways to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as "binge-worthy finance."

Whether you make it part of your daily commute or you save up and listen to a handful of episodes for your 50-mile bike rides or long soaks in a bubble bath (or both!), the podcasts make sense of your money.

And unlike so many who want to make the subjects of personal finance and investing complicated and scary, our podcasts are clear, insightful, and (yes, it's true) fun.

Our free suite of podcasts

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. The show is also heard weekly on dozens of radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers are timeless, so it's worth going back to and listening from the very start; the other three are focused more on today's events, so listen to the most recent first.

All are available for free at www.fool.com/podcasts.

If you're looking for a friendly voice ... with great advice on how to make the most of your money ... from a business with a lengthy track record of success ... in clear, compelling language ... I encourage you to give a listen to our free podcasts.

Head to www.fool.com/podcasts, give them a spin, and you can subscribe there (at iTunes, Stitcher, or our other partners) if you want to receive them regularly.

It's money to your ears.

 


Compare Brokers