, the health benefits company, said net income in the first quarter rose 51% to $876.8 million, or $1.96 a share.
WellPoint said earnings in the latest period included investment gains of 4 cents a share, partially offset by an asset impairment charge of 3 cents a share. Last year, WellPoint had first-quarter earnings of $580.4 million, or $1.16 a share, including net investment losses of $228.4 million, or 46 cents a share.
Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected earnings of $1.67 a share.
Revenue slipped to $15.1 billion from $15.14 billion; analysts expected revenue of $14.72 billion.
Profits at WellPoint's consumer business rose 49%.
WellPoint said its membership at the end of the quarter was 33.8 million, down 2.1% from a year earlier.
WellPoint said its 2010 net income is expected to be at least $6 a share. Analysts expect a profit of $6.14 per share, on average.
-- Reported by Joseph Woelfel in New York.
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