UnitedHealth Group Inc., provider of medical insurance for about one in 10 Americans, said fourth-quarter earnings increased 18% as it enrolled more customers and bought rivals.
Net income rose to $870 million, or 65 cents a share, from $739 million, or 54 cents, a year earlier, the Minnetonka, Minn., company said. Revenue rose 15% to $12 billion.
UnitedHealth added 3.6 million customers last year, helped by the $9-billion purchase of Cypress-based PacifiCare Health Systems Inc. in December. The company also began signing people up for the new Medicare drug plan.
The additions contributed to UnitedHealth's increased earnings forecast for 2006. The company raised its forecast to $2.85 to $2.90 a share from its previous $2.82 to $2.85.
UnitedHealth's shares rose 41 cents to $61.47.
* Union Pacific Corp. said fourth-quarter profit tripled because of rising shipping rates and the elimination of asbestos claims that damped earnings a year ago. Net income increased to $296 million, or $1.10 a share, the Omaha-based company said. Sales rose 13% to $3.62 billion.