WellPoint, Inc. (WLP) Beats Earnings Expectations, Raises Guidance

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WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE:WLP) reported its earnings before opening bell this morning, posting a 3 percent increase in first-quarter profits. The company’s net income was $885.2 million or $2.89 per share, including net investment losses of 5 cents per share.

WellPoint, Inc. (WLP) Beats Earnings Expectations, Raises Guidance

The company reported adjusted net income of $2.94 per share excluding items. That’s a 25.6 percent increase over the $2.34 per share adjusted net income in the same quarter a year ago. Analysts were expecting the company to report earnings of $2.37 per share on revenue of $17.9 billion.

WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE:WLP) said medical enrollment surpassed 35.6 million members as of the end of the March quarter. That’s a 2.1 million member increase or 6.3 percent from the number of enrolled members in the same quarter a year ago.

State sponsorship membership rose by about 2.7 million members after the company acquired AMERIGROUP Corporation (NYSE:AGP) in the previous quarter. It was partially offset by a 429,000 decline in Commercial members, most of which occurred during last year.

WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE:WLP) also raised its guidance for 2013 net income, pushing it to be $7.75 per share or higher, including a 5-cent net investment losses per share. WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE:WLP) guided for full-year adjusted net income to be $7.80 per share or higher.

“Our quarterly results were ahead of our plan, both at the operating gain level and below the line, and were supported by strong quality metrics,” said executive vice president and CFO Wayne DeVeydt. “We have modestly raised our full year EPS outlook as a reflection of our performance, but are still being prudent as many of the uncertainties inherent in our original guidance still exist.”

The insurance provider also bought back about 5.5 million shares of common stock or about 1.8 percent of the outstanding shares as of the end of 2012. The company paid $340.2 million or a weighted average price of $62.41 per share. WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE:WLP) had about $1.5 billion of board-approved share buyback authorization left. It also returned $113.4 million to shareholders in cash dividends during the quarter at a rate of 37.5 cents per share.

As of the moment of this writing, shares of WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE:WLP) were up 4.6 percent.

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