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Health insurer UnitedHealth reports higher profit

UnitedHealth Group
Dawn Villella | Bloomberg News | Getty Images
UnitedHealth Group

Health insurer UnitedHealth reported a better-than-expected quarterly revenue helped by strength in its Optum business which offers healthcare services and drug benefit plans.

Optum revenues grew 54 percent to $19.7 billion. Revenue from Optum's pharmacy division rose 72 percent, the company said on Tuesday.

Net earnings attributable to the company's shareholders rose to $1.61 billion, or $1.67 per share, in the first quarter ended March 31, from $1.41 billion or $1.46 per share, a year earlier.

On an adjusted basis the health insurer earned $1.81 per share.

Revenue rose to $44.53 billion from $35.76 billion, beating analysts' average estimate of $43.96 billion.

The company now expects 2016 adjusted net earnings of $7.75-$7.95 per share, up 15 cents per share from its previous estimate. The increase is due to changes in the expected income tax rate, the company said.