Aetna reports rise in fourth-quarter profits

Aetna on Monday reported a net income of $320.8 million, or $.91 per share, in the fourth quarter of 2015, a 38 percent rise from the same time last year. The insurer, which is planning to acquire fellow insurer Humana this year pending regulatory approval, said its Medicare and Medicaid business saw strong growth in membership, premiums and improved underwriting margins, Shawn M. Guertin, Aetna executive vice president and CFO, said in the earnings report.

For all of 2015, Aetna's net income was $2.4 billion--compared to $2 billion in 2014. The company expects adjusted earnings of at least $7.75 per share in 2016, which is lower than the $8.05 per share analysts expected, the Associated Press notes. However, its fourth-quarter commercial medical benefit ratio improved over 2014 because of "increased favorable development of prior-period healthcare cost estimates primarily related to Aetna's individual commercial business," the report states. Earnings report