UnitedHealth's profit rises 26.3%

UnitedHealth Group, the largest U.S. health insurer, reported a stronger-than-expected quarterly profit and raised its full-year adjusted earnings forecast, helped by growth across all its businesses.

Net earnings attributable to shareholders rose to $2.49 billion, or $2.51 per share, in the quarter ended Sept. 30 from $1.97 billion, or $2.03 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned $2.66 per share, beating the average analyst estimate of $2.56 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue from its Optum business, which manages drug benefits and offers healthcare data analytics services, rose 8.4 percent to $22.89 billion, accounting for nearly half of the insurer's total revenue.

UnitedHealth's total revenue rose 8.7 percent to $50.32 billion, but narrowly missed analysts' estimate of $50.35 billion.

The insurer said its withdrawal from individual insurance markets, combined with the health insurance tax deferral, reduced third-quarter revenue by about $1.6 billion and lowered the revenue growth rate by 4 percent.

The company raised its full-year adjusted earnings to about $10 per share from $9.75 to $9.90 per share estimated previously.

(Reporting by Divya Grover in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza and Anil D'Silva)