Surge of new customers boosts Anthem’s profit

A surge in health plan members boosted Anthem Inc’s profit in the third quarter, helping it soar past the expectations of Wall Street analysts.

The Indianapolis-based health insurer said Wednesday morning it earned $654.8 million in the three months ended Sept. 30, a nearly 4 percent increase over the same period last year.

Third-quarter earnings per share totaled $2.43, up 9.5 percent from the same period last year. Excluding investment losses and amortization of intangible assets, Anthem would have earned $2.73 per share.

On that basis, analysts were expecting earnings of $2.33 per share, based on a survey by Thomson Reuters.

Anthem’s profit was helped by adding 174,000 health plan members in the third quarter. Its Medicaid, local employer and national employer segments all grew, although its individual business saw losses.

Anthem now expects to have 38.5 million health plan members at year-end, which is 50,000 more than it previously expected.

“We are pleased with the execution across our business segments in the third quarter,” Anthem Chief Financial Officer Wayne DeVeydt said in a written statement.

Revenue in the quarter rose 7.2 percent, to $19.9 billion. Analysts were expecting revenue of $19.6 billion, according to the Thomson Reuters survey.

Anthem expects its earnings per share for all of 2015 to range from $10.10 per share to $10.20 per share, after excluding the impact of investment losses and amortization of intangible assets. That’s slightly less than the $10.22 full-year earnings per share that analysts have predicted, according to the Thomson Reuters survey.

In July, Anthem’s year-end profit forecast was simply “greater than $10 per share.”

Anthem’s stock price rose 2 percent on Tuesday to close at $144.69 per share. It has risen 15 percent so far this year.

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