Aetna joined a growing list of health insurers topping Wall Street's quarterly profit expectations, and it did so despite higher taxes and a number of acquisitions.
It also raised its 2015 forecast again, saying Thursday that it now expects adjusted earnings to range between $7.45 and $7.55 per share.
That's up from a per-share earnings forecast of $7.40 in August, but still short of the $7.53 that analysts are looking for, according to FactSet.
In the third quarter, Aetna's net income slid 6% to $560.1 million from $594.5 million in last year's quarter.
Adjusted results totaled $1.90 per share, which is 12 cents better than analysts had projected, according to a survey by Zacks Investment Research.
Operating revenue, which excludes investment gains, rose 2% to about $14.99 billion, which missed average analyst expectations of $15.16 billion.
Income taxes climbed nearly 16% at nation's third-largest health insurer, to $460.5 million. That's mainly due to a higher, non-deductible health insurer fee levied as part of the healthcare overhaul.
The Hartford, Conn., company also booked acquisition-related costs of $44.4 million in the quarter tied to a handful of deals. The biggest is its pending $35-billion acquisition of Medicare Advantage coverage provider Humana.
Aetna's report follows Street-topping results released by the nation's largest insurer, UnitedHealth Group, the Blue Cross-Blue Shield carrier Anthem. and Centene Corp.
Shares of Aetna have increased 25% since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index has climbed 1.5 percent. The stock has climbed 44% in the last 12 months.