January 29, 2020 / 11:48 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 2-Anthem quarterly revenue beats view on faster pharmacy benefits unit launch

(Adds details on unit, outlook, estimates)

Jan 29 (Reuters) - U.S. health insurer Anthem Inc posted quarterly revenue that beat analyst estimates on Wednesday, boosted by higher sales following the quicker launch of its pharmacy benefits management business, IngenioRx.

Anthem speeded up IngenioRx's launch after rival health insurers Aetna and Cigna Corp closed deals with the biggest U.S. pharmacy benefits managers to bolster profits, cut medical costs and better manage patient prescriptions.

Anthem expects the business to contribute about $2.30 to 2020 adjusted profit per share.

Operating revenue from the unit that houses IngenioRx rose to $3.85 billion in the quarter from $411 million a year earlier.

For 2020, Anthem forecast adjusted profit to be above $22.30 per share, compared to consensus estimates of $22.71 per share.

Its top-earning business segment, which sells government-backed Medicare and Medicaid plans, reported a near 13% jump in operating revenue in the quarter ended Dec. 31.

The company's benefit expense ratio, the share of premiums paid for medical services, worsened to 89% in the quarter from 86.8% a year earlier. According to seven analysts polled by Refinitiv, the expectation was 87.91%.

Net income rose to $934 million, or $3.62 per share in the fourth quarter, from $424 million, or $1.61 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, Anthem earned $3.88 per share, in line with estimates.

Total operating revenue rose about 16% to $27.13 billion, narrowly beating estimates of $27.10 billion. (Reporting by Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur, Bernard Orr)

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