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UnitedHealth beats first-quarter profit estimates and raises its 2019 forecast

U.S. health insurer UnitedHealth on Tuesday posted a quarterly profit that beat analysts’ estimates and raised its adjusted earnings target for the year, driven by strength in its Optum unit as well as a rise in memberships for its health plans.

The largest U.S. health insurer raised its full year adjusted earnings forecast to between $14.50 and $14.75 per share from its prior view of $14.40 to $14.70.

The company’s Optum unit, which includes its pharmacy benefit management business, brought in sales of $26.36 billion in the quarter, a jump of nearly 12 percent from a year earlier.

Net earnings attributable to shareholders rose 22.2 percent to $3.47 billion, or $3.56 per share, in the first quarter ended March 31.

UnitedHealth reported adjusted earnings of $3.73 per share, beating estimates of $3.60 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Total revenue rose 9.3 percent to $60.31 billion, ahead of estimates of $59.7 billion.