WellPoint profit slips, beats expectations-WEB ONLY

Second-quarter profit fell nearly 8 percent at WellPoint Inc. as rising joblessness trimmed its customer rolls by nearly 340,000 people, the company announced this morning.

But the Indianapolis-based health insurer managed to exceed analysts’ expectations, posting profit per share of $1.50, before investment losses. Analysts were expecting $1.43 per share, according to a survey by Thomson Financial Network.

With investment losses, WellPoint earned $693.5 million in the quarter, or $1.43 per share. In the same quarter a year ago, the company earned $750.5 million, or $1.44 per share.

WellPoint lost nearly $108 million on its investments in the quarter, a slight improvement from a year ago, when it lost $121 million.

But the continuing investment losses forced WellPoint to lower its full-year profit forecast by 8 cents per share. It now expects to earn $5.06 to $5.12 for the year.

Revenue for the quarter fell by 1.4 percent, to $14.3 billion.

WellPoint’s customers decreased by 338,000 in the quarter to a total of 33.2 million, but WellPoint projects it will gain as many back by the end of the year.

“We are pleased with our earnings per share results for the second quarter. We are managing diligently through these turbulent economic times and are currently taking a number of steps that will improve our future performance,” said WellPoint CEO Angela Braly in a statement.

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