Cigna 1Q Sales Beat, Raises 2012 Forecast

Cigna's (NYSE:CI) first-quarter sales topped Wall Street expectations and the health insurer lifted its fiscal 2012 forecast on Thursday, driven by high performance in its health-care unit and new Medicare customers.

Revenue was up 25% to $6.8 billion from $5.4 billion a year ago, topping the Street’s view of $6.71 billion. The gains were led by a growth in premium and fees of 36% in health care and a 24% improvement in its international segment.

Sales also ticked higher on the $3.8 billion acquisition of Medicare specialist HealthSpring, which closed at the end of January and helps Cigna capitalize on the growing number of baby boomers set to retire in coming years.

Enrollment in its plans climbed 7% to 12.22 million by the end of the quarter.

"Our first quarter 2012 results exceeded our expectations for earnings and customer growth, reflecting continued effective execution of our strategy with solid contributions from each of our ongoing businesses,” Cigna CEO David Cordani said in a statement.

The growth in its health care group, which includes specialty products and services, led the insurer to boost its forecast on the segment for the full year, which ultimately led it to raise its total fiscal 2012 profit.

Cigna now sees earnings in the range of $5.20 to $5.55 a share, right in line with average estimates of $5.41 a share.

The Bloomfield, Conn., health insurer posted quarterly net income of $371 million, or $1.28 a share, compared with a year-earlier $413 million, or $1.51 a share.

Excluding one-time items, Cigna earned $1.28 a share, two cents below average analyst estimates in a Thomson Reuters poll.