Cigna’s Earnings Beat Analysts’ Expectations

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Cigna Corp. reported strong earnings Thursday morning that beat analysts’ expectations as revenue and membership increased in most segments.

Net income for the quarter was $553 million, or $1.95 per share, compared with $466 million, or $1.61 per share, during the same period last year.

Adjusted income from operations for the quarter was $536 million, or $1.89 per share, compared with $489 million, or $1.69 per share last year. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were expecting, on average, $1.63 per share.

Consolidated revenues were up to $8.1 billion during the quarter from $7.3 billion during the same period last year.

Premiums and fees in the company’s global health care business were up to $5.7 billion during the quarter from $5.3 billion last year.

Cigna increased its total membership in commercial health plans to 13.8 million customers as of Sept. 30 from 13.5 million a year earlier. It’s membership in Medicare and Medicaid health plans, which are U.S. taxpayer funded and administered by private insurers, increased to 488,000 from 441,000.

Cigna also increased its membership in Behavioral Care coverage to 22.6 million as of Sept. 30 from 21.5 million a year earlier. Dental plan membership increased to 12 million from 11.4 million. Pharmacy plan membership was up to 7 million from 6.7 million and participation in Medicare Part D coverage, the stand-alone prescription drug coverage plans, was down to 1.2 million from 1.3 million.

One closely watched metric in the health insurance industry is the ratio of medical expenses for customers divided by the premiums, which is known in the industry as medical-loss ratio. Cigna reported that its medical-coverage customers became more expensive: 83 percent during the quarter compared with 80 percent during the same period last year. Medicare Advantage customers also became more expensive at 86 percent during the quarter compared with 80 percent last year.

Cigna repurchased about 13.6 million shares of stock for about $1 billion, year to date, as of Thursday.

About Matthew Sturdevant

Full-time staff journalist at The Hartford Courant and magazine freelancer with a master's degree in writing from Dartmouth. My work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, Taiwan News, The Baltimore Sun and many other news sources. My blog has been referenced by Politico.com, the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Georgetown Law Library and a number of organizations in healthcare and business. Sturdevant’s blog is "a well-written wealth of ideas," said The Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, (businessjournalism.org, May 18, 2011). I have experience writing for newspapers, magazines, Web sites and blogs as well as shooting and editing video. I made regular appearances on news-talk radio and on the NBC affiliate station in Corpus Christi, Texas. I made occasional appearances on the Fox affiliate in Connecticut promoting Hartford Courant articles.

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