WellPoint beats second-quarter estimates, raises 2013 outlook

Reuters

WellPoint Inc reported a much higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Wednesday, helped by lower than forecast medical costs in its employer-based insurance business and improvements in Medicaid operations after the purchase of Amerigroup in December.

The second-largest U.S. insurer also raised its full-year earnings forecast to at least $8 per share, up from the $7.75 it had affirmed in June.

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This was the first full quarter under new Chief Executive Officer Joseph Swedish. He took over the top spot at the company from Angela Braly, who left after coming under investor pressure one year ago over disappointing financial results.

WellPoint, which operates the Blue Cross Blue Shield license in 14 states, said second-quarter net income rose to $800.1 million, or $2.64 per share, from $643.6 million, or $1.94 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding investment gains and acquisition-related costs, WellPoint said earnings were $2.60 per share. That compares with analysts' expectations of $2.11, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

(Reporting by Caroline Humer; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)