Cigna Corp., Philadelphia, returned to profitability in the third quarter after getting a grip on medical costs. The company earned $195 million, or $1.39 per share, during the period, compared with a net loss of $877 million, or $6.27 per share, in the year-ago period. Revenue fell 6% to $4.8 billion. Cigna took more than $1 billion in charges last year mainly for the closure of its reinsurance unit. The company now is looking to divest its retirement business in order to focus on its healthcare unit, which has been struggling to retain members, fix customer-service problems and price its business above costs. Cigna raised its 2003 per-share earnings guidance to between $5.35 and $5.55, from a prior projection of $5 to $5.25.
Meanwhile, Aetna, Hartford, Conn., saw its third-quarter profits more than double as it raised premiums and continued to cut costs. Net income reached $215.9 million, or $1.35 per share, up from $98.8 million, or 64 cents per share, in the year-ago period. Revenue dipped 7.5% to $4.47 billion, reflecting a 7% year-over-year drop in membership to 13 million. Aetna said it expects full-year, per-share earnings of $5 to $5.05. The company said it plans to cut an additional $150 million in costs next year and boost enrollment for the first time in three years. Aetna has cut nearly $700 million in costs and shed more than 6 million members since launching a turnaround effort in 2001. -- by Laura B. Benko