Aetna, UnitedHealthcare post profits in Q4 '13

But Wellpoint and Cigna falter

Financials from the most recently closed calendar quarter paint different pictures of how large insurers--including Aetna, Wellpoint, Cigna and UnitedHealthcare--are faring in the post-reform environment.

Aetna, Inc.'s fourth-quarter 2013 performance shows sizable growth over the same time last year, according to Equities, the global financial community. Aetna's net income climbed 94 percent to $368.9 million, total revenues rose 33 percent to $13.18 billion and operating earnings increased 40 cents per share over the last quarter of 2012. Yet these figures fell short of Wall Street analysts' predictions.    

Aetna's CEO is satisfied with the company's performance nonetheless. "Aetna's solid fourth-quarter performance closes a great year for the company and is a continued testament to the strength of our diversified portfolio," said CEO Mark Bertolini in a statement.  

Aetna's profitability was linked to its acquisition of Coventry Health Care, Inc. last May, which grew Aetna's government business receivables. And Aetna ended 2013 with a 22.2 million-member customer base, Equities noted.

Wellpoint, Inc. announced a 68 percent drop in fourth-quarter profits on an across-the-board membership decline, Fox Business noted. Like Aetna, Wellpoint capitalized on strategic acquisition last year: Merging with Amerigroup increased Wellpoint's Medicaid market presence to the point where the program delivers 45 percent of Wellpoint's overall revenueFierceHealthPayer reported.

Cigna Corporation shares dropped more than 9 percent Friday after the company posted lower-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings, CT Now reported. The most recent quarterly net income was $361 million compared with $406 million in the final quarter of 2012. Moreover, Cigna announced a workforce reduction plan affecting 950 employees at home and abroad.          

Finally, UnitedHealth Group--the parent company of UnitedHealthcare--posted a net income of $1.4 billion in the fourth quarter of 2013, up from $1.2 billion in the same quarter of 2012, according to a Hartford Courant blog post. United's annual income rose from $5.53 billion in 2012 to $5.63 billion in 2013. The insurer credited business diversification for this performance improvement, the Courant noted.          

For more:
- here's the Equities article
- see the Fox Business article
- check out the CT Now article
- read the Hartford Courant blog post

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