Anthem reported a 4% increase in third-quarter profit and beat Wall Street forecasts as the number of people the health insurer covers edged slightly higher.
It also boosted its annual profit forecast for the third time this year, saying it now expects adjusted net income of $10.10 to $10.20 per share. That's up from its July forecast, when it projected adjusted earnings of more than $10 per share, but still below the solid $10.20 per share that Wall Street is looking for, according to a poll by FactSet.
The Blue Cross-Blue Shield insurer, which is planning to buy rival Cigna Corp., reported third-quarter net income of $654.8 million, or $2.43 per share. Adjusted for nonrecurring and amortization costs, that amounted to $2.73 per share, which was 40 cents better than analysts had projected, according to a poll by Zacks Investment Research.
The Indianapolis company reported operating revenue, which excludes investment income, totaling $19.77 billion in the period. That's up 7.6% from $18.37 billion last year and it exceeded Wall Street forecasts for $19.71 billion.
Anthem said it now expects full-year revenue to be $78 billion.
The company said membership grew by 174,000 members, or 0.5 percent, since the second quarter.
Anthem, the nation's second-largest health insurer, announced last summer that it planned to buy Cigna for $48 billion, as part of a wave of consolidation sweeping through the sector. A chief competitor, Aetna Inc., also plans to buy Medicare Advantage coverage provider Humana for about $35 billion. The insurers are waiting for the deals to pass regulatory review. Both acquisitions have drawn concern from politicians like Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and some members of Congress over their potential impact on consumers.
The acquisitions have stirred worry about how they may affect the choices consumers have for coverage and what insurers will do with the price of their product when they become bigger and gain even more leverage. Anthem CEO Joseph Swedish and his Aetna counterpart, Mark Bertolini, addressed some of those concerns when they testified before Congress last month.
Anthem shares have climbed 15% since the beginning of the year. The stock has increased 20% in the last 12 months.