Third-quarter net income surged at Aetna, Hartford, Conn., reflecting a hefty tax refund, but even without special items, the insurer's profit showed dramatic growth. Operating earnings for the three months ended Sept. 30 rose 38% to $275.5 million, or $1.75 per share, from $204.1 million, or $1.27 a share, in the year-ago quarter. Revenue increased 13% to $5 billion. Net income reached $1.29 billion, or $8.21 per share, including a one-time $740 million tax refund related to businesses Aetna sold in the 1990s and favorable tax reserve adjustments of $250 million. Enrollment rose by 131,000 members during the quarter to about 13.6 million, and Aetna said it was on track to meet a projected net gain of 600,000 to 750,000 members in 2004. The company boosted its full-year earnings forecast to $7 per share from a previous range of $6.75 per share to $6.85 per share. -- by Laura B. Benko
$740 million tax refund, new members boost Aetna
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