Cigna Profit Healthy, Enrollment Weak - TheStreet



) -- Despite falling enrollment,


(CI) - Get Report

managed to post a 60% surge in second-quarter profit, boosted by its disability and life segment and its business overseas.

But even with profit more than doubling -- beating Wall Street's expectations and buoying the company's full-year outlook -- shares of the health insurer were down 22 cents to $28.25 in the early going Thursday.

During the quarter Cigna earned $435 million, or $1.58 a share, compared with $272 million, or 96 cents, in the year-ago period. Adjusted profit was actually $1.14 a share, higher than the 96 cents expected by analysts.

Cigna said 40 cents of its per-share profit came from its guaranteed minimum-income benefits business, which took a large charge in the first half of 2008 and had been a drag on past earnings.

The company discontinued that business and its variable annuity death benefits in 2000. The insurer operates both in run-off mode, meaning it seeks no new business for them. Declines in equity markets had led to charges from both businesses in recent quarters.

The insurer was helped in the second quarter by an 11-cents-per-share benefit linked to pension-plan freezes.

Revenue slid 8% to $4.49 billion from $4.86 billion.

Total enrollment slumped 7% to 11.2 million from 12.1 million last year. Cigna said its premiums and fees -- the largest portion of its revenue -- fell as a result.

The company now expects full-year earnings in the range of $3.80 to $4 a share, but predicts membership levels will decline between 5% and 5.5%, down from its prior forecast of a 3% to 4% drop.

Last week, rival


(UNH) - Get Report

said it more than

doubled its profit

in the second-quarter. But it, too, suffered a decrease in commercial enrollment.



, however, saw its second-quarter profit tumble 28%, as medical costs rose faster than expected.

-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York.

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