With Braly out, WellPoint stock jumps

After WellPoint CEO Angela Braly stepped down earlier this week, the health insurer's stock went up, Bloomberg reported. Braly abruptly announced her resignation last Tuesday. On Wednesday, the stock rose by about 7 percent.

Braly had been under intense pressure to resign due to investor unease, according to the Los Angeles Times.

"Investors were losing patience, and they were ready for a change," Sanford Bernstein Analyst Ana Gupte told the newspaper. "The board decided it was time to move on before it played out any further."

WellPoint's stock was down nearly a third since Braly took the reigns as CEO in 2007, the Times reported, including a 13 percent drop this year. Two large WellPoint institutional shareholders--Royal Capital Management and Omega Advisors--had sent letters to the plan's board urging Braly be replaced.

However, analysts said not all of the blame can be placed on Braly. "She took control during a difficult underwriting year, the beginning of the healthcare reform debate and imploding financial markets," Thomas Carroll, an analyst with Stifel Nicolaus, said in a note to clients, Bloomberg noted.

In the absence of a clear replacement within WellPoint to succeed Braly, Carroll said Amerigroup CEO Jim Carlson might make a good candidate, according to Bloomberg. WellPoint is acquiring Amerigroup, a large Medicaid insurer, for about $4.5 billion.

For more:
- read the Bloomberg article
- here's the LA Times article

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