Cigna Hikes 2011 View After 2Q Earnings Beat

Cigna (NYSE:CI) beat the Street on Thursday with a 39% leap in second-quarter profits on lower costs and growing members, leading the health-care giant to upgrade its financial guidance.

Philadelphia-based Cigna said it earned $408 million, or $1.50 a share, last quarter, compared with a profit of $294 million, or $1.06 a share, a year earlier. Excluding one-time items, it earned $1.53 a share, easily exceeding the Streets view of $1.29.

Revenue gained 3% to $5.51 billion, compared with consensus calls from analysts for $5.32 billion.

"Our second quarter results are strong and driven by our continued focus on growing in targeted geographies and customer segments through our diversified, global portfolio of businesses, CEO David Cordani said in a statement.

Cigna said its revenue growth was driven by premium and fee increases of 8% in health care, 10% in disability and life and 36% in international.

Buoyed by its strong second quarter, Cigna upped its 2011 non-GAAP profit to $4.95 to $5.25, which compares favorably with the Streets view of $5.07. Cigna said it anticipates its 2011 health-care membership to grow by about 2%.

We are confident we will continue to leverage our differentiated portfolio of solutions to deliver long-term value and sustainable growth for our customers and shareholders in this very dynamic marketplace, said Cordani.

Cigna said its total medical membership rose to 12.62 million last quarter, up from 11.98 million the year before.

Despite the earnings beat and raised guidance, shares of Cigna slid 1.10% to $46.02 Thursday morning, slightly outperforming a drop of 1.33% on the S&P 500. Cignas stock has gained about 27% in 2011 and nearly 45% over the past 52 weeks.