To wrap up the fourth-quarter earnings for the big health-benefits companies, let's take a gander at CIGNA
CIGNA is a little different from WellPoint
In any case, fourth-quarter results suggest that CIGNA is making progress in reforming itself and improving its stability. Overall revenue was down 3%, while premium and fee revenue rose 2%. Net income plunged by roughly 60%, though adjusted income from operations (a method that excludes investment results and certain items) was down just 23%. That may not sound great, but it was better than expected, and membership was up slightly on a sequential basis.
There are a few long-term bright spots here. Enrollment expectations seem consistent with previous projections, and CIGNA's commercial risk is very low. The company isn't so dependent upon commercial yields, medical cost trends, and underwriting risk as others might be.
I'm still not sure about the company's consumerism concept, which still sounds fairly vague. It basically aims to shift more control and responsibility over health care to consumers, assuming that they can make better decisions (particularly regarding preventative care) if they better understand the long-term cost ramifications. It certainly sounds like a good idea for health insurance companies, but I have a somewhat dimmer and more sarcastic view of average consumers' interest in or ability to manage their health care effectively. I'm not sure this new model will become the next great megatrend, as some have predicted.
CIGNA could outperform expectations, and it's an attractive counterpoint play to other firms with higher commercial and/or Medicare risk. Still, the stock just really doesn't strike my fancy today. Fools, do your own due diligence and decide for yourselves.
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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).