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Aetna Sticks With Forecast

Second-quarter operating earnings match Wall Street's estimates.
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reaffirmed its full-year profit forecast and said that second-quarter operating earnings matched Wall Street's estimates, rising 27% from the prior-year period.

Second-quarter operating earnings were $1.20 a share, the Hartford, Conn., company said. Excluding a gain of 12 cents, mainly for resolving matters associated with the New York State Market Stabilization Pool, operating earnings would have been $1.08 a share.

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Operating earnings exclude net realized capital gains and other items. Net income for the quarter was $1.35 a share compared with 90 cents a share a year ago. Total revenue was higher by 13% to $5.5 billion from $4.9 billion last year.

The health-care giant said medical membership increased by 60,000 in the quarter, bringing its total growth to nearly 780,000 so far in 2005. "In addition, we continue to see solid growth in our specialty products, where we gained an additional 111,000 pharmacy members and 143,000 dental members in the quarter," Aetna said in a press release Thursday.

Despite some additional expenses, including Medicare-related costs, the company reiterated its full-year earnings projection of $4.52 to $4.57 a share.

Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were expecting operating earnings of $1.08 in the second quarter. For the year, the consensus forecast is $4.59.