Health Net Sees 2013 Profit Below Analysts’ Estimates

Health Net Inc., the medical insurer that has missed analysts’ estimates two of the past three quarters, predicted 2013 profit and sales that would also fall below expectations.

Earnings next year will be $2 a share to $2.10 a share, on revenue of $10.7 billion to $11.2 billion, the Woodland Hills, California-based company said today in a statement. While that’s below analyst predictions, some analyst estimates include a California contract to treat Medicare and Medicaid patients that Health Net has excluded because payment rates haven’t been set, Dave Olson, a company spokesman, said in a phone interview.

Health Net shares have fallen 16 percent this year and the company missed estimates in the first two quarters, after difficulties with processing claims and higher-than-expected medical costs. While premiums should rise faster than costs next year, enrollment will drop by 1 percent to 2 percent as the company pulls away from some markets, Health Net said.

“The company expects commercial enrollment to be more heavily weighted to smaller accounts and tailored network products that have lower than company-average premiums” compared with 2012, Health Net said.

Analysts had predicted $2.14 a share in profit and $12.12 billion in revenue on average for 2013, according to estimates tracked by Bloomberg. Olson said the state contract to treat “dual eligibles” -- people covered by both Medicare and Medicaid -- added about 6 cents to some earnings estimates. Without it, Health Net’s guidance is in line with the analysts’ numbers, he said.

Health Net was down 1 cent to $25.65 at 8:04 p.m. New York time. It gained 2 percent to close at $25.66 during regular trading, before the earnings forecast was announced.

(Corrects number of quarters in which estimates were missed in first paragraph.)
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