WellPoint profit rises, meets analysts’ expectations

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WellPoint Inc. reported today that second-quarter profit rose 11 percent, to $835.2 million, meeting analysts’ expectations of $1.35 per share.

The Indianapolis-based health insurance giant also boosted its full-year profit forecast to $5.55 per share.

WellPoint pushed revenue past $15 billion for the three months ended June 30, slightly below analysts’ expectations, according to a survey by Thomson Financial.

In the quarter, WellPoint lost 108,000 members in its plans, as price increases chased away some individual customers and some of its non-Blue Cross Blue Shield plans lost members. It now has 34.8 million customers.

WellPoint’s ratio of claims paid to premiums collected was again higher than a year ago, rising to 81.8 percent in its second quarter from 81.2 percent a year ago.

However, the second quarter ratio was lower than the 83.1-percent rate WellPoint posted in its first quarter, which concerned investors.

WellPoint repurchased 16.2 million shares of its own stock during the quarter for $1.3 billion. It still has $1 billion to spend on stock buybacks. Company officials said they plan to spend that money by year’s end.

We continue to demonstrate our ability to consistently deliver strong earnings growth while also providing members with new benefit options and services that improve the affordability and quality of the health care they receive,” WellPoint CEO Angela F. Braly said in a statement.

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