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Dow Jones Gains on Vaccine News; Goldman Sachs Stock Jumps on Strong Earnings, While UnitedHealth Slumps

By Timothy Green – Updated Jul 15, 2020 at 12:48PM

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The investment bank reported a surge in revenue and profit, while the health insurer's results were less impressive.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 2.66%) breached 27,000 early Wednesday, but the rally had partly faded by lunchtime. The Dow was up around 0.5% by noon EDT today.

There was some good news related to coronavirus vaccines that helped drive the market higher. The results of a phase 1 study for a vaccine candidate from Moderna showed that neutralizing antibodies were found in all 45 participants. A phase 2 study is ongoing, and a phase 3 study is scheduled to start on July 27.

It may take an effective vaccine to end the pandemic crisis in the United States, given the surging case numbers in various states. The U.S. reported more than 67,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, a new record.

Along with the vaccine news, a strong earnings report from Goldman Sachs (GS 2.08%) helped push the Dow higher. Meanwhile, shares of UnitedHealth (UNH 2.07%) headed lower after the company reported mixed results that featured a temporary surge in earnings.

A Wall Street street sign.

Image source: Getty Images.

Goldman Sachs destroys analyst estimates

The second quarter was a good one for Goldman Sachs, driven primarily by a surge in revenue from the global markets segment. Total revenue was $13.3 billion, up 41% year over year and $3.54 billion higher than the average analyst estimate. Global markets revenue shot up 93% to $7.18 billion, while investment banking revenue surged 36%.

Within the global markets segment, revenue from fixed income, currency, and commodities totaled $4.24 billion, more than doubling year over year and the best performance in nine years. Revenue from equities jumped 46% to $2.94 billion, the best performance in 11 years.

Goldman reported earnings per share of $6.26, up from $5.81 in the prior-year period and $2.25 better than analysts were expecting. This earnings growth came despite a $1.59 billion provision for credit losses, up from $937 million in the first quarter and $214 million in the prior-year period. Goldman kept its quarterly dividend unchanged at $1.25 per share.

Shares of Goldman were up 1.5% by early Wednesday afternoon. The stock remains about 13% below its 52-week high.

Mixed results for UnitedHealth

Health insurance giant UnitedHealth produced better-than-expected earnings during the second quarter, but investors shouldn't get used to a surging bottom line. The pandemic led to a temporary deferral of care in UnitedHealth's risk-based businesses, a trend the company expects to reverse in the future. Medical costs were down 11.5% during the quarter, which pushed total operating costs lower.

UnitedHealth reported adjusted EPS of $7.12, up from $3.60 in the prior-year period and $1.88 higher than analysts were expecting. Revenue was $62.1 billion, up 2.5% year over year but $1.4 billion below the average analyst estimate.

The company is maintaining its full-year guidance, which calls for adjusted EPS between $16.25 and $16.55. It began to see more-typical levels of demand for care toward the end of the second quarter. The medical care ratio (or medical costs divided by premiums) was 70.2% during the second quarter, down from 83.1% in the prior-year period.

Shares of UnitedHealth didn't get a boost from the company's earnings report. The stock was down about 1.6% by early afternoon.

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.
$299.15 (2.08%) $6.10
UnitedHealth Group Incorporated Stock Quote
UnitedHealth Group Incorporated
$515.51 (2.07%) $10.47
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Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return)
$29,490.89 (2.66%) $765.38

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