second-quarter earnings easily exceeded Wall Street's forecasts, but revenue declined from a year ago, mainly as a result of lower health-plan membership numbers.
The company reported second-quarter operating earnings of $203.9 million, or $1.28 a share, compared with operating earnings of $91.3 million, or 59 cents a share, in the same period last year.
Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were expecting $1.02 a share for the quarter.
Operating earnings exclude net realized capital gains and other items. Aetna's net income for the second quarter was 87 cents a share, compared with a profit of 70 cents a year ago.
Revenue fell to $4.5 billion from $5.1 billion in the same period a year ago. The decrease reflects fewer members in its health plans, but that was partly offset by higher per-member premiums, as well as lower net investment income because of lower interest rates.
The results were actually released earlier than Aetna had planned. "In preparing for its distribution, Aetna's second-quarter earnings announcement was inadvertently released through its standard mechanism to the investment community. Upon discovery we immediately released it to the public," spokesman Roy Clason said. The company was going to post its results after the close.
John W. Rowe, Aetna's chairman and CEO, said in a press release that the key reason for the profit growth was the "sustained moderation in health-care utilization trends, driven largely by a decline in the rate of pharmacy cost increases. The overall moderation in the rate of rising medical costs reflects both the cumulative impact of deliberate actions Aetna has taken over the past two years, as well as broader health care utilization trends."
Shares of Aetna were losing 79 cents, or 1%, to $67.70 on the
New York Stock Exchange