(Reuters) – UnitedHealth Group Inc (N:), the largest U.S. health insurer, reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit on Tuesday, mainly helped by growth in its services business.
Revenue from Optum, which includes the company’s pharmacy benefits management business, grew 13 percent to $27.56 billion in the fourth quarter, while revenue from its mainstay insurance business grew 11.1 percent to $46.23 billion.
The company’s Optum business is expected to face competition from rivals Cigna (NYSE:) and Aetna (NYSE:) after the two health insurers entered into separate deals with large benefit managers.
Net earnings attributable to shareholders fell 16 percent to $3.04 billion, or $3.10 per share, in the quarter ended Dec. 31.
Excluding items, the company earned $3.28 per share. Total revenue rose about 12 percent to $58.42 billion.
Analysts on average were expecting earnings of $3.21 per share and revenue of $58.01 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
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