EARNINGS-Anthem reports better-than-expected earnings, raises 2019 profit forecast

Credit: REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Anthem Inc's first-quarter profit beat Wall Street estimates on Wednesday, as revenue from its commercial and government businesses rose, and the health insurer raised its earnings target for the year.

Compares with analyst estimates, add details on quarter

April 24 (Reuters) - Anthem Inc'sANTM.N first-quarter profit beat Wall Street estimates on Wednesday, as revenue from its commercial and government businesses rose, and the health insurer raised its earnings target for the year.

Anthem said it now expects 2019 adjusted earnings to be above $19.20 per share, higher than a prior estimate of more than $19.00.

The company's benefit expense ratio — the percentage of premiums taken in that are paid out for medical services — worsened to 84.4 percent in the quarter from 81.5 percent a year earlier, partly due to the one-year waiver of the health insurance tax in 2019. Analysts on average had expected 84 percent, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Members in Anthem's health plans rose by 1.2 million to 40.8 million, helped by growth in the government business which provides Medicare health plans for people aged 65 and older and Medicaid plans for the poor.

Net income rose 18.2 percent to $1.55 billion, or $5.91 per share, in the quarter ended March 31.

Excluding items, the company earned $6.03 per share, ahead of the average analyst estimate of $5.81.

Total revenue rose 9.4 percent to $24.67 billion, beating analysts' estimates of $24.28 billion, helped by membership growth across the company's businesses and premium rate increases.

(Reporting by Tamara Mathias in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)

((Tamara.Mathias@thomsonreuters.com; within U.S. +1 646 223 8780, outside U.S. +91 806749 1208; Reuters Messaging: tamara.mathias.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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