Bloomberg New

UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH - Get Report) posted stronger-than-expected fourth quarter earnings Tuesday, and held its 2019 outlook in place, as Optum revenues topped $100 billion for the first time on record last year.

UnitedHealth said adjusted earnings for the three months ending in December came in at $3.28 per share, up 26.6% from the same period last year and well ahead of the Street consensus of $3.21. Group revenues, the company said, rose 12.1% to $58.04 billion, again topping analysts' estimates of $58 billion.

"The 300,000 dedicated women and men of UnitedHealth Group are positively impacting society by restlessly pursuing a mission to help people live healthier lives and to improve health system performance," said CEO David Wichmann. "Their efforts led to accelerating growth across our enterprise in 2018 and created strong momentum for 2019." 

UnitedHealth shares closed up 3.55% to $256.87 Tuesday.

UnitedHealth said Optum, its pharmacy benefits management system that comprises three separate divisions, saw 2018 revenues top $100 billion for the first time on record, with a fourth quarter growth rate of 13% outpacing the 11% advance for its traditional insurance business.