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Dow Jones News: Goldman Sachs Builds Reserves; UnitedHealth Keeps Guidance

By Timothy Green - Apr 15, 2020 at 12:41PM

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Goldman is the latest financial company to brace for bigger credit losses ahead, and UnitedHealth maintained its full-year outlook despite the pandemic.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 0.00%) headed lower on Wednesday, down 2.8% at 11:25 a.m. EDT. U.S. retail sales tumbled by 8.7% in March, the largest one-month decline on record, and multiple banks missed analyst estimates due to elevated loan-loss reserves. The rally over the past few weeks is now running up against the reality of a deep recession.

Goldman Sachs (GS 1.08%) was one company that took an earnings hit to boost reserves, although revenue was higher than expected. Meanwhile, UnitedHealth Group (UNH -0.90%) managed to impress investors with solid results and reaffirmed guidance for the full year.

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Goldman Sachs falls short

As the novel coronavirus pandemic and the associated social-distancing measures ravage the economy, lenders are beginning to brace for elevated credit losses in the months ahead. On Tuesday, JPMorgan Chase took a big hit to earnings as it built up its credit loss reserves. Bank of America suffered the same fate on Wednesday morning.

Goldman Sachs isn't immune from the pain. The investment bank reported mixed first-quarter results Wednesday, beating analyst estimates on revenue but missing on earnings. Goldman took a $937 million charge to account for future credit losses, up from just $224 million in the prior-year period.

Total revenue was $8.74 billion, down slightly from the first quarter of last year but $820 million higher than analysts were expecting. Revenue was up substantially in the investment banking, global markets, and consumer and wealth management segments. However, a steep decline in net revenue from the asset management segment, driven by net losses in debt and equity investments, pushed total revenue lower.

Earnings per share came in at $3.11, down from $5.71 in the prior-year period and $0.18 lower than analysts were expecting. Goldman's elevated provision for credit losses, which reflect pressure in the energy sector, the expected impact from the pandemic, and growth in corporate loans and credit card loans reduced the bottom line substantially. At the end of the quarter, Goldman's total allowance for credit losses stood at $3.2 billion.

Shares of Goldman were down about 0.4% by late morning. The stock is now down roughly 30% from its 52-week high.

UnitedHealth maintains its guidance

While many companies are being severely affected by the pandemic, health insurance giant UnitedHealth hasn't yet seen much impact. On top of beating analyst estimates across the board in the first quarter, the company maintained its full-year earnings guidance despite the uncertainty surrounding the virus.

UnitedHealth reported first-quarter revenue of $64.4 billion, up 6.8% year over year and $170 million above the average analyst estimate. The UnitedHealthcare segment produced revenue of $51.1 billion, up 4.5% from the prior-year period, while the Optum health services segment grew revenue by 24.6% to $32.8 billion.

Adjusted earnings per share came in at $3.72, down from $3.73 in the prior-year period but $0.05 higher than analysts were expecting. The company's bottom line wasn't hit much by the pandemic, but the company did outline some factors that only emerged late in the quarter, which include "rising U.S. incidence and response initiatives; multiple investment initiatives including coverage expansions and increased access to critical care and pharmacy services; other funding and support initiatives; and lower elective care demand."

While the impact of the pandemic on UnitedHealth's business is uncertain, the company still believes it can hit its full-year earnings target. UnitedHealth maintained its outlook for adjusted EPS between $16.25 and $16.55 for 2020.

UnitedHealth stock was up 2.6% by late morning, one of the few gainers in the Dow. Shares are now down just 9.5% from their 52-week high.

Timothy Green has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends UnitedHealth Group. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. Stock Quote
The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.
$351.68 (1.08%) $3.77
UnitedHealth Group Incorporated Stock Quote
UnitedHealth Group Incorporated
$532.86 (-0.90%) $-4.86
Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return) Stock Quote
Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return)
$33,309.51 (0.00%) $0.00

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