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WellPoint says earnings could slightly exceed expectations

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WellPoint Inc. said Tuesday that it expects 2012 earnings at the high end or slightly above a range that the health insurer reaffirmed last month.

The Indianapolis-based insurer also said it expects adjusted earnings per share to grow moderately this year, when the insurer plans to buy back stock and have a lower share count.

WellPoint shares were up 41 cents Tuesday morning, or less than 1 percent, to $60.16 each.

In December, WellPoint said it expected profit in the range of of $7.30 to $7.40 per share in 2012. That estimate doesn't count items such as investment gains and litigation or acquisition costs. The forecast also doesn't include costs tied to its acquisition of fellow insurer Amerigroup Corp., a $4.46 billion deal WellPoint recently completed.

Analysts expect, on average, 2012 earnings of $7.46 per share, according to FactSet.

WellPoint will release full fourth-quarter and 2012 financial results on Jan. 23.

WellPoint runs Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in several states and is the nation's second largest health insurer, trailing only UnitedHealth Group Inc.

The insurer will announce its forecast for 2013 later this quarter as well. Analysts and investors also are waiting for the announcement of a new CEO.

Former CEO Angela Braly resigned in August, a month after WellPoint cut its 2012 outlook and reported second-quarter earnings that fell, missing analyst expectations. WellPoint then beat Wall Street expectations in the third quarter, when the insurer recorded its first quarterly, year-over-year earnings increase since early 2011.

The insurer is slated to deliver a presentation Tuesday at the annual JP Morgan health care conference in San Francisco.

WellPoint competitor Aetna also will deliver a presentation Tuesday at the JP Morgan conference. Aetna on Monday reaffirmed its forecast for 2012 adjusted earnings of about $5.10 per share. The Hartford, Conn., insurer also expects 2013 earnings of at least $5.40 per share.

Analysts expect earnings of $5.15 per share in 2012 and $5.53 per share this year.

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  1. I took Bruce's comments to highlight a glaring issue when it comes to a state's image, and therefore its overall branding. An example is Michigan vs. Indiana. Michigan has done an excellent job of following through on its branding strategy around "Pure Michigan", even down to the detail of the rest stops. Since a state's branding is often targeted to visitors, it makes sense that rest stops, being that point of first impression, should be significant. It is clear that Indiana doesn't care as much about the impression it gives visitors even though our branding as the Crossroads of America does place importance on travel. Bruce's point is quite logical and accurate.

  2. I appreciated the article. I guess I have become so accustomed to making my "pit stops" at places where I can ALSO get gasoline and something hot to eat, that I hardly even notice public rest stops anymore. That said, I do concur with the rationale that our rest stops (if we are to have them at all) can and should be both fiscally-responsible AND designed to make a positive impression about our state.

  3. I don't know about the rest of you but I only stop at these places for one reason, and it's not to picnic. I move trucks for dealers and have been to rest areas in most all 48 lower states. Some of ours need upgrading no doubt. Many states rest areas are much worse than ours. In the rest area on I-70 just past Richmond truckers have to hike about a quarter of a mile. When I stop I;m generally in a bit of a hurry. Convenience,not beauty, is a primary concern.

  4. Community Hospital is the only system to not have layoffs? That is not true. Because I was one of the people who was laid off from East. And all of the LPN's have been laid off. Just because their layoffs were not announced or done all together does not mean people did not lose their jobs. They cherry-picked people from departments one by one. But you add them all up and it's several hundred. And East has had a dramatic drop I in patient beds from 800 to around 125. I know because I worked there for 30 years.

  5. I have obtained my 6 gallon badge for my donation of A Positive blood. I'm sorry to hear that my donation was nothing but a profit center for the Indiana Blood Center.

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