Aetna Inc. Fourth Quarter Earnings Sneak Peek

S&P 500 (NYSE:SPY) component Aetna, Inc. (NYSE:AET) will unveil its latest earnings on Wednesday, February 1, 2012. Aetna is a health insurance company. It provides its customers, ranging from individuals to employer groups to governmental units, with traditional and consumer-directed health care benefits products and related services, such as medical, pharmaceutical, dental, behavioral health, group life, and disability plans.

Aetna, Inc. Earnings Preview Cheat Sheet

Wall St. Earnings Expectations: The average estimate of analysts is for net income of 98 cents per share, a rise of 55.6% from the company’s actual earnings for the same quarter a year ago. During the past three months, the average estimate has moved up from 88 cents. Between one and three months ago, the average estimate moved up. It has risen from 96 cents during the last month. For the year, analysts are projecting profit of $5.16 per share, a rise of 40.2% from last year.

Past Earnings Performance: Last quarter, the company beat estimates by 26 cents, coming in at net income of $1.40 a share versus the estimate of profit of $1.14 a share. It marked the fourth straight quarter of beating estimates.

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Wall St. Revenue Expectations: Analysts are projecting a decline of 0.2% in revenue from the year-earlier quarter to $8.49 billion.

Analyst Ratings: Analysts are bullish on this stock with 12 analysts rating it as a buy, none rating it as a sell and six rating it as a hold.

A Look Back: In the third quarter, profit fell 1.4% to $490.4 million ($1.30 a share) from $497.6 million ($1.19 a share) the year earlier, but exceeded analyst expectations. Revenue rose 2.9% to $8.79 billion from $8.54 billion.

Key Stats:

The decrease in profit in the third quarter broke a streak of three consecutive quarters of year-over-year profit increases. Net income rose 9.3% in the second quarter, 4.2% in the first quarter and 30% in the fourth quarter of the last fiscal year.

Revenue rose in the third quarter after seeing a drop the quarter before. In the second quarter, revenue fell 2.4%.

Competitors to Watch: UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE:UNH), Health Net, Inc. (NYSE:HNT), Coventry Health Care, Inc. (NYSE:CVH), WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE:WLP), CIGNA Corporation (NYSE:CI), WellCare Health Plans, Inc. (NYSE:WCG), Humana Inc. (NYSE:HUM), Centene Corporation (NYSE:CNC), HealthSpring, Inc (NYSE:HS), and Universal American Corp. (NYSE:UAM).

Stock Price Performance: During November 28, 2011 to January 26, 2012, the stock price had risen $3.69 (9.5%) from $38.92 to $42.61. It saw one of its worst periods between January 18, 2012 and January 26, 2012 when shares fell for seven-straight days, falling 5.1% (-$2.30) over that span. The stock price saw one of its best stretches over the last year between December 30, 2011 and January 11, 2012 when shares rose for eight-straight days, rising 5.2% (+$2.17) over that span.

(Company fundamentals by Xignite Financials. Earnings estimates provided by Zacks)

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