Cigna 3Q Profit Falls, But Forecast Raised

Health insurer Cigna (NYSE:CI) reported on Friday a narrowed third-quarter profit that missed Wall Street expectations, however it still raised its full-year profit view – for the third time this year.

The company now expects 2011 earnings in the range of $5.05 a share to $5.30 a share, which is up from its earlier view between $4.95 and $5.25 a share. Analysts are looking for a profit of $5.30.

The Bloomfield, Ct.-based company posted net income of $200 million, or 74 cents a share, compared with $307 million, or $1.13 a share, in the same quarter last year. The results were hurt by slowed growth in its core healthcare segment.

The results were less encouraging than those from larger rivals, such as Aetna (NYSE:AET), Wellpoint (NYSE:WLP) and UnitedHealth (NYSE:UNH), which all topped expectations amid lower medical costs.

Excluding one-time items such as the negative impact of Guaranteed Minimum Death Benefits, the company said it earned $1.20 a share, below average analyst estimates polled by Thomson Reuters of $1.23.

Revenue for the three-month period was up 6% to $5.61 billion, beating the Street’s view of $5.5 billion. The company’s strongest performance was in its international segment, which climbed 33%. However, premiums and fees from the healthcare group only grew 4%.

Cigna CEO David Cordani said the company is pleased with the “consistent execution” of the company’s growth strategy and the positive momentum it creates for 2012 and beyond.

Earlier this week, Cigna announced it would buy HealthSpring (NYSE:HS) for $3.8 billion in an effort to boost its presence in Medicare plans. That move is expected to better position it to take advantage of the growing number of elderly patients available for the government program amid the U.S. healthcare overhaul.