Aetna, Hartford, Conn., posted a 16% rise in first-quarter profits, fueled by renewed success in attracting customers. Net income for the three months ended March 31 rose to $424 million, or $1.39 per share, from $365.8 million, or $1.14 per share, in the year-ago quarter. Revenue was up 13% to $5.43 billion. Enrollment climbed 8% to 14.4 million members. As part of a recent turnaround, Aetna cropped membership to a low of 13 million in mid-2003 from 21 million in 1999. The company raised its 2005 per-share earnings estimate to between $4.52 and $4.57 from a prior forecast of $4.38 to $4.45.
Separately, PacifiCare Health Systems, Cypress, Calif., reported a 28% rise in first-quarter net income to $85.7 million, or 89 cents per share, from $67 million, or 71 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. Revenue rose 16% to $3.4 billion, as enrollment climbed 10% to 3.2 million members. The company raised its 2005 per-share earnings outlook to between $3.70 and $3.85 from a prior estimate of $3.64 to $3.80. -- by Laura B. Benko