Health insurer

Humana

(HUM) - Get Report

swung to a fourth-quarter profit and guided first-quarter profit ahead of analysts' estimates, although it left full-year guidance intact.

The Louisville, Ky.-based company earned $66.31 million, or 41 cents a share, in the quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with a loss of $1.71 million, or a penny a share, in the previous-year quarter. Analysts had been expecting earnings of 40 cents a share in the latest quarter. Humana cited an improvement in operating earnings from its commercial and government segments and the absence of unusual items and charges taken in the fourth quarter last year.

Consolidated revenue was $3.15 billion, up 10.4% from $2.86 billion a year earlier.

The company's commercial segment pretax income was $14.06 million in the quarter from a loss of $60.7 million a year ago. Its government segment pretax income was $85.7 million, compared with $58.2 million a year ago.

In the first quarter 2004, Humana expects earnings of 40 cents to 42 cents. Consensus is 37 cents a share, according to Thomson One Analytics.

For full-year 2004, the company sees earnings of $1.60 to $1.65 a share with consolidated revenue of $13 billion. Consensus is $1.63 a share. Capital expenditures are seen at $100 million.