PacifiCare Health Systems Cypress, Calif., and Cigna Corp., Philadelphia, among the last major health insurers to report third-quarter earnings, posted better-than-expected results on tighter medical cost controls. PacifiCare said its earnings rose 31% to $88 million, or 94 cents per share, exceeding analysts' expectation of 88 cents per share. Revenue increased 13% to $3.11 billion. Enrollment rose 3% to 3 million members. PacifiCare boosted its full-year, per-share earnings projection to between $3.15 and $3.20 from its previous outlook of $3.07 to $3.17. In 2003, the company earned $3.04 per share.
Cigna saw its third-quarter net income climb 64% to $320 million, or $2.34 per share, including a gain of $79 million from the sale of the company's retirement-benefits business. Excluding special items in both quarters, earnings rose 19% to $242 million, or $1.77 per share. Analysts had expected $1.36 per share. Revenue fell 6% to $4.48 billion and enrollment declined 16% to 9.9 million members as Cigna continued to shed unprofitable accounts. Cigna raised its full-year, per-share earnings forecast to between $6.65 and $6.85 from $5.95 to $6.25. It earned $4.41 per share last year. -- by Laura B. Benko