Aetna profit misses Wall Street target

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 26, 2012 7:40 AM

(Reuters) - Health insurer Aetna Inc reported a lower-than-expected quarterly profit on Thursday as higher claim costs and administrative expenses weighed on results.

Aetna is the first major health insurer to miss earnings estimates after rivals WellPoint Inc and UnitedHealth Group Inc have posted higher-than-expected profits this quarter and raised their full-year outlooks.

Aetna, the No. 3 U.S. health insurer, backed its full-year profit view.

First-quarter net income fell to $511 million, or $1.43 per share, from $586 million, or $1.50 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, earnings of $1.34 a share missed the analysts' average estimate by 6 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose 6 percent to $8.92 billion.

Aetna spent 81.5 percent of premium revenue on medical claims, up from 79.2 percent a year earlier. Its operating expenses rose nearly 7 percent.

Through Wednesday, Aetna shares had risen about 17 percent this year, compared with a 14 percent rise for the Morgan Stanley Healthcare index of health insurers.

(Reporting By Lewis Krauskopf in New York; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)