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Anthem posts higher Q3 net income as operating revenue jumps

Anthem Inc.'s third-quarter net income rose to $1.18 billion, or $4.55 per share, from $960 million, or $3.62 per share, from the prior-year period.

Adjusted net income expanded year over year to $1.27 billion, or $4.87 per share, from $1.01 billion, or $3.81 per share.

The S&P Global Market Intelligence consensus normalized EPS estimate for the quarter was $4.82.

Total operating revenue grew to $26.44 billion from $22.98 billion in the third quarter of 2018. The increase was attributed to membership growth across Anthem's businesses, premium rate increases to cover overall cost trends and growth in the company's value-added services, including its pharmacy and integrated health offerings. The increase was partially offset by the one-year waiver of the health insurance tax in 2019.

Total medical membership came in at nearly 41 million, versus 39.9 million in the year-ago period. Fully insured membership rose to 15.6 million from 14.6 million, while self-funded membership grew to 25.4 million from 25.3 million. Government business enrollment increased to nearly 11 million from 10.1 million as the company experienced growth in Medicaid and Medicare.

The benefit expense ratio was 87.2% in the most recent quarter, up from 84.8% in the prior-year quarter. The increase was primarily driven by the one-year waiver of the health insurance tax in 2019, the company said.

During the third quarter, the company repurchased 2.4 million common shares for $644 million, or a weighted average price of $266.52. As of Sept. 30, the company had approximately $4.1 billion of board-approved share repurchase authorization remaining.

Anthem also raised its 2019 outlook. It now expects GAAP net income to be greater than $18.45 per share, including approximately 95 cents per share of net unfavorable items. Excluding these items, adjusted net income is now expected to be greater than $19.40.

It had expected GAAP net income to be greater than $18.34 per share, including approximately 96 cents per share of net unfavorable items. Excluding these items, adjusted net income had been expected to be greater than $19.30 per share.

The S&P Global Market Intelligence consensus normalized EPS estimate for 2019 is $19.34.

Medical membership numbers are expected to be roughly flat at year-end compared to Sept. 30.