Anthem underwriter not happy with Street with 2022 forecast

Anthem is starting 2022 with lower expectations than Wall Street for how the year will go.

Insurance company Blue Cross-Blue Shield released earnings, earnings and enrollment forecasts on Wednesday that fell short of analysts’ average expectations, and its shares fell while broader indices rose.

The health insurance company expects membership growth, especially in Medicare Advantage, the private version of the federal government’s coverage program. But it also implies some cost increase, at least initially, when new customers start using their coverage.

Anthem said it expects adjusted earnings to exceed $28.25 a share this year on $152 billion in operating revenue, which excludes investment income.

The insurer also predicts that the total number of participants at the end of 2021 will be between 45.6 million and 46.2 million, which is about 45.4 million people.

Next year, analysts expect an average earnings of $28.59 per share on revenue of $153 billion, with a total membership of about 46.8 million, according to FactSet.

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Most Anthem customers have plans that they bought from the marketplace for private insurance or through employers. But the company’s public business, which includes the Medicare Advantage and Medicaid programs it administers to states, grew 17% to more than 15 million people in 2021.

In the fourth quarter, Anthem also fell short of consensus by about $500 million, with operating revenue of $36.02 billion.

The insurer’s adjusted earnings of $5.14 per share for the quarter beat expectations by 3 cents, while Anthem’s earnings doubled to $1.14 billion.

For the full year, Anthem earned $6.1 billion on operating revenue of $136.94 billion.

Shares of Anthem Inc. from Indianapolis fell more than 1%, or $6.17, to $433.01 on Wednesday morning, while the S&P 500 rose more than 1%.

Anthem shares are up about 40% over the past year.

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