Humana Posts Jump in 4Q Profit, Raises View

Features Reuters

Humana Inc (HUM) posted a big rise in fourth-quarter earnings on Monday, helped by higher membership in its Medicare plans for the elderly, and the health insurer slightly lifted its full-year profit forecast.

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Humana, one of the largest U.S. providers of Medicare plans, raised its forecast for membership additions to its Medicare Advantage plans by 40,000, amounting to a roughly 12 percent enrollment increase for the plans in 2012.

Quarterly net income jumped to $199 million, or $1.20 per share, from $107 million, or 63 cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts on average were expecting $1.20. But it was not immediately clear whether analysts would also exclude a 13-cent charge the company recorded for its charitable foundation that would lift the results above targets, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose 9 percent to $9.06 billion.

Medicare Advantage enrollment stood at 1.64 million at the end of December, up 12 percent from a year earlier. The company gained an additional 173,000 members in January, reflecting results from the annual enrollment period for 2012.

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For 2012, Humana forecast earnings of $7.50 to $7.70 per share, up from its earlier projected range of $7.40 to $7.60. Analysts have been looking for $7.99.

At Friday's close, Humana shares were up about 3 percent this year, after soaring 60 percent in 2011.