Insurer Cigna beats 1Q forecasts, raises 2019 outlook

Cigna beats 1Q forecasts as Express Scripts takeover lifts results, and the insurer raised its 2019 outlook

BLOOMFIELD, Conn. -- Cigna's first quarter earnings topped analyst expectations, as a major acquisition helped push the health insurer's net income past $1 billion.

Cigna closed its $52 billion purchase of pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts late last December. The addition helped the insurer's total revenue more than triple to $37.95 billion in this year's first quarter. Adjusted revenue totaled $33.43 billion, which did not meet Wall Street forecasts.

Net income grew nearly 50% to $1.37 billion. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring costs and amortization, came to $3.90 per share.

The average estimate of 10 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $3.74 per share.

Cigna executives have touted the Express Scripts deal as a way to give the company better financial flexibility and improve its free cash flow, among other advantages. They also say the combination will improve service and give doctors a more complete picture of patients.

Pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs like Express Scripts, run prescription drug coverage for big employer and insurers, among other clients.

Cigna also said Thursday that it now expects full-year earnings in the range of $16.25 to $16.65 per share. That's up from the company's previous projection for earnings of $16 to $16.50 per share.

Analysts expect, on average, earnings of $16.48 per share, according to FactSet.

Shares of Bloomfield, Connecticut-based Cigna Corp. slid nearly 5% to $154.42 in midday trading Thursday.

The company's stock had declined 15% since the beginning of the year while the Standard & Poor's 500 index has increased 17%.


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