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Insurer WellPoint raises 2014 earnings forecast

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WellPoint has already raised a 2014 earnings forecast it laid out earlier this year, and the nation’s second-largest health insurer expects the health care overhaul to help fuel its growth.

The Indianapolis insurer told investors Friday that an expansion of the state and federally funded Medicaid program in the overhaul will become a significant source of future enrollment gains. The overhaul is a federal law that aims to expand insurance coverage to millions of uninsured people.

Aside from the Medicaid expansion, the law also creates state-based exchanges on which customers are able to buy private coverage, sometimes with help from an income-based subsidy.

WellPoint is pushing more aggressively than many of its rivals into that business. It participates in 14 exchanges, and CEO Joseph Swedish said in a statement those exchanges “are tracking our general expectations.”

The exchanges make up a relatively small slice of WellPoint’s customer base. Overall, the insurer expects its total enrollment to grow 3 percent or 4 percent this year to almost 37 million people, and it aims to reach 40 million people by 2018.

“We believe the market is poised for unprecedented growth in covered lives,” Swedish said in a webcast of the insurer’s investor presentation in New York City.

WellPoint made its name nationally as a provider of private Blue Cross Blue Shield coverage, but it is pegging more of its future growth on the government business, which also includes the Medicare program for elderly customers and coverage for government employees. Swedish has said that government business now represents nearly 45 percent of its revenue base.

WellPoint said Friday it now expects full-year earnings to be greater than $8.20 per share. It also forecast that operating revenue, which excludes investment gains or losses, will grow about 4 percent to $73 billion. WellPoint had forecast in late January earnings of greater than $8 per share.

The new prediction still falls short of Wall Street’s expectations. Analysts forecast earnings of $8.37 per share on $73.45 billion in operating revenue, according to FactSet.

The insurer recorded adjusted earnings of $8.52 per share last year, so this year’s forecast implies a possible drop. Investors expect insurers to face many challenges this year. While the overhaul may provide enrollment growth, it also imposes taxes and fees that can strain insurer profitability, and it calls for Medicare funding cuts.

WellPoint Inc. shares hit an all-time high price of $102.56 shortly after trading started Friday, topping a previous high that was set Wednesday. The stock then retreated but was still up $1.19, to $100.90 in midmorning trading.

WellPoint shares soared 52 percent last year to close 2013 at $92.39.

Insurer WellPoint raises 2014 earnings forecast

KDWN

WellPoint has already raised a 2014 earnings forecast it laid out earlier this year, and the nation’s second-largest health insurer expects the health care overhaul to help fuel its growth.

The Indianapolis insurer told investors Friday that an expansion of the state and federally funded Medicaid program in the overhaul will become a significant source of future enrollment gains. The overhaul is a federal law that aims to expand insurance coverage to millions of uninsured people.

Aside from the Medicaid expansion, the law also creates state-based exchanges on which customers are able to buy private coverage, sometimes with help from an income-based subsidy.

WellPoint is pushing more aggressively than many of its rivals into that business. It participates in 14 exchanges, and CEO Joseph Swedish said in a statement those exchanges “are tracking our general expectations.”

The exchanges make up a relatively small slice of WellPoint’s customer base. Overall, the insurer expects its total enrollment to grow 3 percent or 4 percent this year to almost 37 million people, and it aims to reach 40 million people by 2018.

“We believe the market is poised for unprecedented growth in covered lives,” Swedish said in a webcast of the insurer’s investor presentation in New York City.

WellPoint made its name nationally as a provider of private Blue Cross Blue Shield coverage, but it is pegging more of its future growth on the government business, which also includes the Medicare program for elderly customers and coverage for government employees. Swedish has said that government business now represents nearly 45 percent of its revenue base.

WellPoint said Friday it now expects full-year earnings to be greater than $8.20 per share. It also forecast that operating revenue, which excludes investment gains or losses, will grow about 4 percent to $73 billion. WellPoint had forecast in late January earnings of greater than $8 per share.

The new prediction still falls short of Wall Street’s expectations. Analysts forecast earnings of $8.37 per share on $73.45 billion in operating revenue, according to FactSet.

The insurer recorded adjusted earnings of $8.52 per share last year, so this year’s forecast implies a possible drop. Investors expect insurers to face many challenges this year. While the overhaul may provide enrollment growth, it also imposes taxes and fees that can strain insurer profitability, and it calls for Medicare funding cuts.

WellPoint Inc. shares hit an all-time high price of $102.56 shortly after trading started Friday, topping a previous high that was set Wednesday. The stock then retreated but was still up $1.19, to $100.90 in midmorning trading.

WellPoint shares soared 52 percent last year to close 2013 at $92.39.

Insurer WellPoint raises 2014 earnings forecast

KDWN

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — WellPoint has already raised a 2014 earnings forecast it laid out earlier this year, but projections from the nation’s second-largest health insurer are still below analyst expectations.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield insurer, based in Indianapolis, said Friday that it now expects full-year earnings to be greater than $8.20 per share. It also forecast that operating revenue, which excludes investment gains or losses, will grow about 4 percent to $73 billion. WellPoint had said in late January that it expected earnings to be greater than $8 per share.

Analysts forecast earnings of $8.37 per share on $73.45 billion in operating revenue.

WellPoint is selling coverage on 14 state-based health insurance exchanges created through the federal health care overhaul, a law designed to help millions of uninsured people. Those exchanges started accepting enrollment for 2014 last fall, but many customers were left frustrated by technical glitches and frequent crashes, especially on the federal HealthCare.gov website, the main conduit for enrollment in many states.

Government officials have said the websites are running much better now.

WellPoint CEO Joseph Swedish said in a statement on Friday that the exchanges “are tracking our general expectations,” and the company was encouraged so far by results across its business.

The exchanges make up a relatively small slice of WellPoint’s overall business, which also includes employer-sponsored coverage and enrollment in the government’s Medicare and Medicaid programs. The insurer said its total medical enrollment could grow 3 percent or 4 percent this year to almost 37 million people. It trails only UnitedHealth Group Inc. in both revenue and enrollment.

WellPoint Inc. shares climbed 69 cents to $100.40 in premarket trading Friday.

The stock hit an all-time high price of $100.59 on Wednesday, according to FactSet.

Insurer WellPoint raises 2014 earnings forecast

KDWN

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — WellPoint has already raised a 2014 earnings forecast it laid out earlier this year, but projections from the nation’s second-largest health insurer are still below analyst expectations.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield insurer, based in Indianapolis, said Friday that it now expects full-year earnings to be greater than $8.20 per share. It also forecast that operating revenue, which excludes investment gains or losses, will grow about 4 percent to $73 billion. WellPoint had said in late January that it expected earnings to be greater than $8 per share.

Analysts forecast earnings of $8.37 per share on $73.45 billion in operating revenue.

WellPoint is selling coverage on 14 state-based health insurance exchanges created through the federal health care overhaul, a law designed to help millions of uninsured people. Those exchanges started accepting enrollment for 2014 last fall, but many customers were left frustrated by technical glitches and frequent crashes, especially on the federal HealthCare.gov website, the main conduit for enrollment in many states.

Government officials have said the websites are running much better now.

WellPoint CEO Joseph Swedish said in a statement on Friday that the exchanges “are tracking our general expectations,” and the company was encouraged so far by results across its business.

The exchanges make up a relatively small slice of WellPoint’s overall business, which also includes employer-sponsored coverage and enrollment in the government’s Medicare and Medicaid programs. The insurer said its total medical enrollment could grow 3 percent or 4 percent this year to almost 37 million people. It trails only UnitedHealth Group Inc. in both revenue and enrollment.

WellPoint Inc. shares climbed 69 cents to $100.40 in premarket trading Friday.

The stock hit an all-time high price of $100.59 on Wednesday, according to FactSet.

Insurer WellPoint raises 2014 earnings forecast

KDWN

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — WellPoint has already raised a 2014 earnings forecast it laid out earlier this year, but projections from the nation’s second-largest health insurer are still below analyst expectations.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield insurer, based in Indianapolis, said Friday that it now expects full-year earnings to be greater than $8.20 per share. It also forecast that operating revenue, which excludes investment gains or losses, will grow about 4 percent to $73 billion. WellPoint had said in late January that it expected earnings to be greater than $8 per share.

Analysts forecast earnings of $8.37 per share on $73.45 billion in operating revenue.

WellPoint is selling coverage on 14 state-based health insurance exchanges created through the federal health care overhaul, a law designed to help millions of uninsured people. Those exchanges started accepting enrollment for 2014 last fall, but many customers were left frustrated by technical glitches and frequent crashes, especially on the federal HealthCare.gov website, the main conduit for enrollment in many states.

Government officials have said the websites are running much better now.

WellPoint CEO Joseph Swedish said in a statement on Friday that the exchanges “are tracking our general expectations,” and the company was encouraged so far by results across its business.

The exchanges make up a relatively small slice of WellPoint’s overall business, which also includes employer-sponsored coverage and enrollment in the government’s Medicare and Medicaid programs. The insurer said its total medical enrollment could grow 3 percent or 4 percent this year to almost 37 million people. It trails only UnitedHealth Group Inc. in both revenue and enrollment.

WellPoint Inc. shares climbed 69 cents to $100.40 in premarket trading Friday.

The stock hit an all-time high price of $100.59 on Wednesday, according to FactSet.

Insurer WellPoint raises 2014 earnings forecast

KDWN

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — WellPoint is already raising a 2014 earnings forecast it laid out earlier this year, but the nation’s second largest health insurer’s projections are still below analyst expectations.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield insurer, based in Indianapolis, says it now expects full-year earnings to be greater than $8.20 per share. WellPoint had said in late January that it expected earnings to be greater than $8 per share.

Analysts forecast earnings of $8.37 per share.

The insurer is selling coverage on several state-based health insurance exchanges created by the health care overhaul. It says its medical enrollment could grow 3 percent or 4 percent this year.

WellPoint Inc. shares climbed 69 cents to top $100 in premarket trading and approach an all-time high price of $100.59 that the stock reached Wednesday.