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WellPoint raises its 2013 profit forecast

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WellPoint Inc.’s core operations turned out more profit than the company had previously predicted, the Indianapolis-based health insurer disclosed in a securities filing Monday evening.

WellPoint raised its 2013 profit forecast to $8.52 per share, up 12 cents from a previous forecast of $8.40 per share. The company has yet to close its books on 2013. It will reveal its actual 2013 financial results Jan. 29.

The new forecast roughly matches what Wall Street analysts were already expecting. A survey of 23 analysts by Thomson Reuters found an average 2013 profit forecast of $8.51 per share, even before Monday’s disclosure.

Both WellPoint’s and analyst forecasts exclude a variety of special charges, such as investment gains, the early extinguishment of debt, a favorable tax ruling and a charge related to WellPoint’s sale of its 1-800-Contacts subsidiary. When those items are included, WellPoint’s 2013 profit would total $8.20 per share, according to Monday’s disclosure.

In October, WellPoint predicted its full-year profit would total $8.45 per share. But that was before the 54-cent-per-share charge for the 1-800-Contacts sale was announced.

WellPoint shares were up 2 cents late Tuesday morning, to $90.86 each.

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