Aetna Raises Earnings Outlook, Keeps Profit Projections

Friday, 19 Mar 2010 10:29 AM

Health insurer Aetna expects first-quarter earnings to surpass Wall Street predictions, but it held to its previous projection for full-year profit.

Aetna projects its first-quarter operating earnings will top the consensus analyst expectation of 66 cents per share, Chief Financial Officer Joseph Zubretsky told analysts on Friday in a brief conference call to discuss the No. 3 U.S. health insurer's outlook.

"This favorable variance is primarily related to a quarterly pattern of our internal forecast that differs from the consensus estimate," Zubretsky said. The first quarter performance so far has been in line with Aetna's expectations, Zubretsky said.

The CFO reiterated Aetna's previous full-year expectation of $2.55 per share to $2.65 per share, excluding items.

Analysts on average expect $2.69, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Aetna initially had planned for an in-person meeting with investors and analysts on Friday, but scaled it back to the conference call, citing the current political environment as a vote on health reform nears.

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