MINNETONKA, Minn. (AP) - UnitedHealth Group closed 2015 with a 19 percent drop in fourth-quarter profit, but the nation's largest health insurer still topped Wall Street's expectations thanks in part to growth outside of its insurance business.

MINNETONKA, Minn. (AP) UnitedHealth Group closed 2015 with a 19 percent drop in fourth-quarter profit, but the nation's largest health insurer still topped Wall Street's expectations thanks in part to growth outside of its insurance business.

The company reported Tuesday that it earned $1.22 billion in the final three months of the year, down from $1.51 billion in the previous year's quarter. Earnings, adjusted for amortization costs, totaled $1.40 per share.

The average estimate of five analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $1.37 per share.

UnitedHealth posted revenue of $43.6 billion, also surpassing Street forecasts. Analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $43.1 billion.

Health insurance is UnitedHealth's main business, but it has been leaning more on its Optum segment for growth. That segment runs the company's pharmacy benefits management, provides technology services and runs clinics and doctor's offices.

Operating earnings from Optum jumped 50 percent to $1.5 billion in the quarter while operating earnings from the company's main UnitedHealthcare segment dropped 44 percent to $949 million, from $1.7 billion.

UnitedHealth, based in Minnetonka, Minnesota, expects full-year earnings in the range of $7.60 to $7.80 per share.

UnitedHealth shares have declined 7 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index has declined 8 percent. The stock has climbed slightly more than 3 percent in the last 12 months.

_____

Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on UNH at http://www.zacks.com/ap/UNH

_____

Keywords: UnitedHealth Group, Earnings Report, Priority Earnings