Trigon Healthcare

(TGH) - Get Report

posted fourth-quarter earnings that exceeded analysts' expectations by a penny, boosted by robust revenues for the quarter.

Richmond, Va.-based Trigon, the state's largest managed care company, said fourth-quarter earnings per share before realized gains and losses was 86 cents, up from 62 cents in the year-ago period. According to a poll by

First Call/Thomson Financial

, the consensus estimate of 14 analysts was 85 cents a share for the quarter.

Trigon, which recently lost its bidding war against

WellPoint Health Networks

(WLP)

for Georgia-based Blue Cross/Blue Shield operator

Cerulean

, said fourth-quarter operating income, which is measured as premium and fee revenues, less medical claims and administrative expenses, grew 76% to $25.8 million from $14.7 million last year. This resulted in an operating margin of 3.9%.

Net income, which includes a $19.1 million realized loss in Trigon's investment portfolio during the quarter, was $21 million, or 54 cents a share, down from $27.6 million, or 70 cents a share a year ago.

Quarterly sales were $670.7 million from $611.6 million

Shares of Trigon closed at $62.90 in regular trading on the

New York Stock Exchange

Tuesday. They have a 52-week range of $28.81 and $81.50.