Anthem quarterly profit beats estimates, raises 2018 forecast

(Reuters) - Anthem Inc reported quarterly profit that topped analysts' estimates on Wednesday on lower medical costs and the No.2 U.S. health insurer raised its full-year adjusted earnings forecast.

Anthem's benefit expense ratio - an insurer's spending on claims against the premiums it earns - improved to 84.8 percent from 87 percent in the year-ago period, as it kept a tight lid on costs from its commercial health plans.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
ANTM ANTHEM, INC. 378.50 -3.79 -0.99%

The health insurer said it now expected full-year adjusted earnings forecast to be more than $15.60 per share, up from the prior forecast of over $15.40 per share.

Excluding items, the company earned $3.81 per share, topping the average analyst estimate of $3.70 per share, according to Refinitiv data.

However, total membership fell by 753,000 members from 40.3 million members in the year-ago period, as the company continues to exit its Obamacare business and lost out on customers buying its Medicaid health plans for low-income members.

Total revenue rose 3.7 percent to $23.25 billion, ahead of analysts' estimate of $22.94 billion.

Net income rose to $960 million, or $3.62 per share, in the third quarter ended September 30, from $747 million, or $2.80 per share, a year earlier.

(This story corrects paragraph 6 to say revenue beat, not missed, analysts' estimates)

(Reporting by Aakash Jagadeesh Babu and Tamara Mathias in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)