UPDATE 1-UnitedHealth quarterly profit beats expectations driven by Optum strength

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FILE PHOTO: A UnitedHealth Group health insurance card is seen in a wallet in this picture illustration October 14, 2019. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/Illustration/File Photo

(Reuters) – UnitedHealth Group Inc (UNH.N) reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit on Wednesday, as the largest U.S. health insurer benefited from higher revenue from its Optum unit, which includes its pharmacy benefits management business.

The company affirmed its full-year outlook for 2020 adjusted earnings of $16.25 to $16.55 per share.

UnitedHealth has bolstered its fastest growing Optum business with a string of small-scale acquisitions, the latest being a $300 million purchase of Diplomat Pharmacy.

Revenue from Optum, which manages drug benefits and offers healthcare data analytics services, rose about 8% to $29.8 billion.

On an adjusted basis, the company earned $3.90 per share, exceeding analyst estimates of $3.78.

Net earnings attributable to shareholders rose to $3.54 billion, or $3.68 per share, in the three months ended Dec. 31, from $3.04 billion, or $3.10 per share, a year earlier.

Total revenue rose to $60.90 billion from $58.42 billion.

Reporting by Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr

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