Earnings reports for the end of the year, showed Xcel Energy, United Health, Magellan Midstream Partners and Canadian Pacific Railways ending 2014 strong.
United Health Group Inc. beat the predictions of Wall Street analysts in the fourth quarter of 2014 in what turned out to be a better-than-expected year for the health insurer. Profits in the last three-month period rose 5.8% to more than $1.5 billion compared to the same quarter in 2014–$1.55 per share.
Full-year profit hovered around $5.6 billion. Earnings per share were $5.70. Last year was expected to be one of the most challenging for health insurers, with health care reform volatility posing considerable risks for the sector.
Canadian Pacific said its fourth-quarter earnings were a record $2.68 per share (Canadian), up 38 percent over the period a year ago. Annual earnings per share rose 71 percent to set another record, and annual revenue of $6.6 billion (Canadian) also was an all-time high, the company said. CP hauls crude oil and other commodities through Minnesota. Its oil shipments from North Dakota and Canada rose 22 percent in 2014, and are expected to increase again this year despite low oil prices. The crude-by-rail traffic, along with increased grain, consumer and other business, drove record revenue and earnings per share for the railroad.
Magellan Midstream Partners shareholders had sailed through what could have been a disastrous 2014, with a historic oil price plunge. With a balance sheet, capital spending discipline and lucrative assets, Magellan’s management increased distribution by 20 percent. It’s armor—revenues are not as tied to oil prices as other business models in the sector, the company said.
Xcel Energy has been profitable for eight quarters and for the last four, profit has risen by an average of 41 percent. In the third quarter, revenue rose 5 percent over 2013 to $2.87 billion. The company hit a 52 week high on Jan. 28., last trading at $37.35, with a volume of 820,531 shares trading hands. The stock had previously closed at $37.27.