UnitedHealth Group says its fourth-quarter profit rose 10 percent, trumping Wall Street expectations as a drop in health care use continued to help the insurer.
The Minnetonka, Minnesota, company says it earned $1.04 billion, or 94 cents per share, in the three months ended Dec. 31. That's up from the $944 million, or 81 cents per share, a year ago. Revenue rose 10 percent to $24.03 billion.
Analyst polled by FactSet forecast earnings of 84 cents per share on $23.74 billion in revenue.
UnitedHealth is the largest publicly traded health insurer based on total revenue and the second-largest based on enrollment, trailing only WellPoint. It is the first big health insurer to release its earnings every quarter, and many analysts and investors see it as a bellwether for the sector.