WellPoint's CEO Discusses Q1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

WellPoint (WLP)

Q1 2012 Earnings Call

April 25, 2012 8:30 am ET

Executives

Michael Kleinman - Vice President of Investor Relations and Acting Vice President of Internal Audit, Ethics & Compliance

Angela F. Braly - Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, President and Chairman of Executive Committee

Wayne S. Deveydt - Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President

Ken R. Goulet - Executive Vice President, Chief Executive Officer of Commercial Business Unit and President of Commercial Business Unit

Analysts

Joshua R. Raskin - Barclays Capital, Research Division

Charles Andrew Boorady - Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division

Douglas Simpson - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Christine Arnold - Cowen and Company, LLC, Research Division

Scott J. Fidel - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

Matthew Borsch - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Kevin M. Fischbeck - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division

Thomas A. Carroll - Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., Inc., Research Division

Christian Rigg - Susquehanna Financial Group, LLLP, Research Division

Ana Gupte - Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., LLC., Research Division

David H. Windley - Jefferies & Company, Inc., Research Division

Michael J. Baker - Raymond James & Associates, Inc., Research Division

Peter H. Costa - Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division

Carl R. McDonald - Citigroup Inc, Research Division

Presentation

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by, and welcome to the WellPoint First Quarter Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this conference is being recorded. I would now like to turn the conference over to the company's management.

Michael Kleinman

Good morning, and welcome to WellPoint's First Quarter Earnings Conference Call. I'm Michael Kleinman, Vice President of Investor Relations. With me this morning are Angela Braly, our Chair, President and Chief Executive Officer; and Wayne Deveydt, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Angela will begin this morning's call with an overview of our first quarter results, actions and accomplishments. Wayne will then offer a detailed review of our financial performance, capital management and current guidance, which will be followed by a question-and-answer session. Ken Goulet, Executive Vice President and President of our Commercial Business, is available to participate in the Q&A session.

During this call, we will reference certain non-GAAP measures. Reconciliations of these non-GAAP measures to the most directly comparable measures calculated in accordance with GAAP are included in today's press release and available on our company website at www.wellpoint.com.

We will be making some forward-looking statements on this call. The listeners are cautioned that these statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties, many of which are difficult to predict and generally beyond the control of WellPoint. These risks and uncertainties can cause actual results to differ materially from our current expectations. We advise listeners to review the risk factors discussed in today's press release and in our quarterly and annual filings with the SEC.

I will now turn the call over to Angela.

Angela F. Braly

Thank you, Michael, and good morning. Earnings per share in the first quarter of 2012 totaled $2.53, which included net investment gains of $0.19 per share. Earnings per share in the first quarter of 2011 were $2.44 and included net investment gains of $0.09 per share. Excluding the net investment gains in each period, our adjusted EPS was $2.34 in the first quarter of 2012, which exceeded our expectation and was just slightly below the $2.35 we reported in the prior year quarter.

Our first quarter results were driven by improved performance in the Senior business and continued strong operating results in our Commercial segment. We also executed well in the capital management areas of our company and achieved better-than-expected below-the-line results. Based on our first quarter performance, we are raising our full year 2012 GAAP earnings per share guidance to at least $7.84, which includes $0.19 per share of net investment gains. Excluding the net investment gains, we are increasing our full year adjusted EPS guidance to at least $7.65.

Medical enrollment declined by 578,000 during the first quarter and totaled approximately 33.7 million members as of March 31, 2012. The decline occurred in the Commercial segment and reflected our strategic product repositioning in the New York small group and National Accounts markets.

Our commercial enrollment was also impacted by continued in-group membership attrition during the quarter, and by competitive situations in certain local group markets. While the overall competitive environment remains rational, we have lowered our year-end 2012 fully insured membership expectation as we maintain pricing discipline.

Operating margins in the Commercial segment are in line with our expectations, and we continue to be well positioned for future success in this marketplace. We have won several sizable customers that will become effective later this year, and although it is still early in the 2013 National Accounts selling season, our value proposition continues to be market-leading. We currently expect to grow national membership next year.

In the Senior business, we grew membership during the first quarter as a result of our geographic expansion into new Medicare Advantage service areas. As expected, this new business more than offset the membership declines in California related to the regional PPO product. Our Senior business operating gain increased in the first quarter, and we continue to expect additional enrollment growth in this business over the balance of 2012.

We're also very excited to welcome Raja Rajamannar to WellPoint as our Executive Vice President of Senior Business and Chief Transformation Officer. Raja's extensive experience in global business management, marketing, product development and consumer engagement will be a great asset to our company, especially at a time when consumers are taking a more active role in the selection and management of their health care options.

Our Senior business has underperformed in recent years, and under Raja's disciplined leadership, we have detailed action plans and expect to make investments to position this business for strong future growth and performance. Raja's expertise will also help us expand in other areas.

In the State Sponsored business, membership remained flat in the first quarter, while the operating performance deteriorated, as we anticipated it would, due to higher medical costs and state budgetary pressures. We continue to expect that state fiscal conditions in California and other markets are likely to pressure reimbursement related to state-funded programs for the foreseeable future.

As we continue to evaluate the important future growth opportunities in the Medicaid marketplace, we're balancing state fiscal constraints with our desire to partner with states in a long-term sustainable manner that recognizes the quality and efficiency we can provide to government programs and their beneficiaries. We believe we are well positioned to meet the needs of the dual eligible population in California and in other markets, due in large part to the combination of our CareMore comprehensive care model and our extensive history in Medicaid and Medicare. We expect to participate in Los Angeles County's dual eligible demonstration through a subcontracting relationship with L.A. Care beginning in 2013. The CareMore delivery model gives us unique and market-leading capabilities to reduce costs and improve health outcomes for individuals participating in this emerging program. We look forward to serving this population and are hopeful that California's program will be expanded to include 2 additional counties in which we are a Medi-Cal provider and also operate or soon will be opening CareMore facilities. In total, we now have 29 CareMore care centers in operation across California, Arizona and Nevada, and we're on track to open at least 12 additional centers, including 7 in new states by January 1, 2013.

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