July 31, 2013 / 10:22 AM / in 4 years

Humana profit rises on growth in retail, employer units

(Reuters) - Health insurer Humana Inc (HUM.N) said on Wednesday that its second-quarter profit rose 18 percent, helped by growth in both its direct-to-customer division and the unit that markets plans to employers.

The company, which specializes in private Medicare plans for the elderly, reported net income of $420 million, or $2.63 per share, up from $356 million, or $2.16 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding 12 cents a share in costs of exiting a Puerto Rico Medicaid business for the poor, analysts were expecting earnings of $2.47, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Humana is the fourth major insurer to report second-quarter earnings that beat Wall Street estimates. UnitedHealth Group Inc (UNH.N), WellPoint Inc WLP.N and Aetna Inc (AET.N) have all said their profits had benefited from reduced use of medical services by customers.

Revenue rose to $9.7 billion from $9.2 billion, below analysts’ expectations of $10.3 billion.

Private Medicare, known as Medicare Advantage, accounts for about two-thirds of Humana’s revenue.

The company raised its full-year earnings forecast to a range of $8.65 to $8.75 per share to reflect the second-quarter results. Analysts were expecting $8.68 per share.

Humana said it had spent 83.4 percent of premiums it took in on medical benefits, down from 83.5 percent a year earlier. It had 12.37 million medical members at the end of the quarter, and another 8.27 million people were in dental, vision and other supplemental benefit plans.

Reporting by Caroline Humer; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn

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