WellPoint profits rise, beat analysts' expectations

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A milder-than-expected flu season helped WellPoint Inc. boost first-quarter profits by 8 percent, excluding investment gains and special charges, the Indianapolis-based health insurer reported Wednesday morning.

The results handily beat the expectations of Wall Street analysts. But continuing high unemployment forced WellPoint to slightly weakened its full-year forecast.

Profits in the three months ended March 31 totaled $877 million, or $1.96 per share. Excluding investment gains and a special accounting charge, WellPoint earned $1.95 cents per share.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial expected WellPoint to earn $1.66 per share.

In the same quarter a year ago, WellPoint earned $809 million, or $1.62 per share. The company has been trying to boost its per-share profit numbers by buying back shares. It spent $1.6 billion in the first quarter to do that.

Revenue in the first quarter fell slightly from a year ago to $15.1 billion.

WellPoint added 165,000 new insured customers during the quarter, which was more than company officials had expected. The company now insures 33.8 million people, more than any of its peers.

But WellPoint also expects to lose more customers this year than the 400,000 company officials predicted in March. At that time, WellPoint said its customer rolls would drop to 33.3 million by year’s end. Now, it expects to drop another 200,000 to 33.1 million.

WellPoint maintained its full-year profit forecast at $6 per share, including its first-quarter investment gains of 4 cents and the special accounting charge of 3 cents.

The company’s stock has fallen since last week’s Reuters story about the company’s rescission policies sparked another high-profile rebuke from the Obama administration and a counter-charge by WellPoint that the story was “grossly misleading.”

WellPoint’s stock price has skidded 4.6 percent since the Reuters story appeared on April 22. Its shares closed Tuesday at $55.92 apiece.


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ