Wellpoint Inc. Earnings: Four Straight Quarters of Profit Drops

S&P 500 (NYSE:SPY) component Wellpoint Inc. (NYSE:WLP) reported its results for the fourth quarter. WellPoint is a health benefits company which offers a spectrum of network-based managed care plans to employers, individuals, and seniors.

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Wellpoint Earnings Cheat Sheet for the Fourth Quarter

Results: Net income for the health care plans company fell to $335.3 million (96 cents per share) vs. $548.8 million ($1.40 per share) a year earlier. This is a decline of 38.9% from the year earlier quarter.

Revenue: Rose 4.8% to $15.32 billion from the year earlier quarter.

Actual vs. Wall St. Expectations: WLP reported adjusted net income of 99 cents per share. By that measure, the company fell short of mean estimate of $1.11 per share. Analysts were expecting revenue of $15.41 billion.

Quoting Management: “Our fourth quarter results were at the high end of our guidance range and concluded a successful 2011. During the year, we added 928,000 new medical members and achieved financial results that were in-line or better than we expected in most of our businesses. We also created a more efficient organization and executed on a number of strategic initiatives as we prepare to capitalize on the important future growth opportunities we see in the marketplace,” said Angela F. Braly, chair, president and chief executive officer. “We have the right strategies in place to continue improving the lives of the people we serve and the health of our communities. We are looking forward to delivering even more health care value in 2012 and continue to expect long-term growth and success.”

Key Stats:

The company has now seen net income fall in each of the last three quarters. In the third quarter, net income fell 7.6% from the year earlier, while the figure fell 2.9% in the second quarter.

The company fell short of forecasts after beating estimates in the previous two quarters. In the third quarter, it topped the mark by 11 cents, and in the second quarter, it was ahead by 4 cents.

Looking Forward: Analysts appear increasingly negative about the company’s results for the next quarter. The average estimate for the first quarter of the next fiscal year has moved down from $2.32 a share to $2.30 over the last ninety days. For the fiscal year, the average estimate has moved up from $7.04 a share to $7.09 over the last ninety days.

Competitors to Watch: CIGNA Corporation (NYSE:CI), Humana Inc. (NYSE:HUM), UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE:UNH), Aetna Inc. (NYSE:AET), Universal American Corp. (NYSE:UAM), Health Net, Inc. (NYSE:HNT), HealthSpring, Inc (NYSE:HS), Molina Healthcare, Inc. (NYSE:MOH), Coventry Health Care, Inc. (NYSE:CVH), and Triple-S Management Corp. (NYSE:GTS).

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

To contact the reporter on this story: Derek Hoffman at staff.writers@wallstcheatsheet.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Damien Hoffman at editors@wallstcheatsheet.com