Cigna beats Street 1Q forecasts, joins other health insurers in raising 2015 outlook

Industries Associated Press

Cigna became the latest health insurance provider to beat earnings expectations and raise its 2015 forecast when it announced Thursday that first-quarter earnings had edged up to $533 million.

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The Bloomfield, Connecticut, company said it now expects full-year adjusted operating income to range between $8.15 and $8.50 per share. That's up from a forecast it made in February for earnings of $8 to $8.40 per share.

Analysts expect, on average, $8.40 per share, according to FactSet.

In the first quarter, Cigna earnings, adjusted for investment gains, came to $1.96 per share.

That topped Wall Street expectations, where the average estimate of 12 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $1.84 per share.

The health insurer posted operating revenue of $9.39 billion in the period, also exceeding Street forecasts. Eight analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $9.11 billion.

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Cigna is one of the nation's largest health insurers, but it also operates a growing international business and sells group disability and life coverage, among other products. The company joined UnitedHealth Group Inc., Anthem Inc. and Aetna Inc. in topping analyst expectations for the first quarter and raising its 2015 forecast.

Cigna shares advanced $1.32 to $128 before markets opened and after the insurer released results. The stock price, which had dropped below $10 during the Great Recession and the debate on overhauling the U.S. health system was heating up, has risen 23 percent since the beginning of the year while the Standard & Poor's 500 index is up slightly more than 2 percent. The stock has climbed 63 percent in the last 12 months.

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Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on CI at http://www.zacks.com/ap/CI

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Keywords: Cigna, Earnings Report