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Healthcare ETFs in Focus on UnitedHealth's Solid Q4 Earnings

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The largest U.S. health insurer UnitedHealth Group (UNH - Free Report) reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter 2020 results wherein it breezed past the Zacks Consensus Estimate on both earnings and revenues. UnitedHealth also reiterated its upbeat full-year outlook.

Earnings per share came in at $2.52, well above the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $2.39 but below the year-ago earnings of $3.90. Revenues grew 7.8% year over year to $65.1 billion and edged past the estimated $65.07 billion. Strong results were led by Optum and by UnitedHealthcare’s community and senior benefit businesses, even with the expansive COVID-19 response supporting patients, care providers, customers and communities.

Medical ratio (a measure of the percentage of premiums paid out for medical services) declined to 79.1% from 82.5% a year ago. The health insurer reaffirmed its 2021 adjusted earnings per share in the range of $17.70-$18.25, including a $1.80 hit due to treatment and testing costs related to COVID-19. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings per share is pegged at $18.22 for 2021 (see: all the Healthcare ETFs here).

Despite the solid results, UNH shares dropped 0.4% in yesterday’s trading session. The stock currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) and Value Score of B. It belongs to an unfavorable Zacks industry (placed at the bottom 21% of 250+ industries).

Investors could tap the company’s growth with ETFs having the largest allocation to this health insurance giant. We have highlighted them in detail below:

iShares U.S. Healthcare Providers ETF (IHF - Free Report)

This ETF follows the Dow Jones U.S. Select Healthcare Providers Index with exposure to companies that provide health insurance, diagnostics and specialized treatment. In total, the fund holds 57 securities in its basket and UNH occupies the top position with 21.7% share. The fund has amassed $1.2 billion in its asset base, while volume is light at about 29,000 shares per day, on average. It charges 42 bps in annual fees and has a Zacks ETF Rank #3 (Hold) with a Medium risk outlook (read: 4 Sector ETFs & Stocks Top Despite Soft December Jobs Data).

iShares Evolved U.S. Healthcare Staples ETF (IEHS - Free Report)

This actively managed ETF employs data science techniques to identify companies with exposure to the health-care staples sector. It holds 161 stocks in its basket with UnitedHealth taking the top spot at 11.1%. The fund has accumulated $19.2 million in its asset base and sees a meager volume of 37,000 shares. It charges 18 bps in annual fees.

Health Care Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLV - Free Report)

The most-popular health care ETF, XLV follows the Health Care Select Sector Index. This fund manages nearly $26 billion in its asset base and trades in heavy volume of around 7.8 million shares. Expense ratio comes in at 0.13%. In total, the fund holds 63 securities in its basket with UNH taking the second spot at 7.5% of the assets. Pharma accounts for 28.8% share from a sector look, while health care equipment and supplies, health care providers and services, and biotech have double-digit exposure each. It has a Zacks ETF Rank #2 (Buy) with a Medium risk outlook.

iShares U.S. Healthcare ETF (IYH - Free Report)

This fund offers exposure to 123 U.S. healthcare equipment and services, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnology companies by tracking the Dow Jones U.S. Health Care Index. Here again, UnitedHealth is the second firm accounting for 6.8% of the total assets. In terms of industrial exposure, pharma takes the top spot at 26.8%, followed by health care equipment (24.4%) and biotech (17.3%). The product has amassed $2.6 billion in its asset base, while charging 43 bps in annual fees. It trades in a moderate volume of around 35,000 shares a day and has a Zacks ETF Rank #2 with a Medium risk outlook (read: ETFs to Gain on UnitedHealth and Change Healthcare Deal).

Vanguard Health Care ETF (VHT - Free Report)

This ETF tracks the MSCI US Investable Market Health Care 25/50 Index and holds 452 stocks in its basket. Of these, UNH takes the second spot with 6.3% allocation. Pharma takes the largest share at 25%, while health care equipment and biotech round off the top three spots. VHT is also one of the popular and liquid ETFs with AUM of $13.9 billion and an average daily volume of about 246,000 shares. It charges 10 bps in annual fees and has a Zacks ETF Rank #2 with a Medium risk outlook.

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