Cigna's strong financial start to 2019 backed by Express Scripts acquisition

Cigna reported strong financial performance in the first quarter of 2019, bolstered mostly by its acquisition of Express Scripts.

The insurer reported nearly $1.5 billion in adjusted income in Q1, up about 50% compared to just over $1 billion in the first quarter of 2018. Adjusted revenues also soared in this quarter, jumping from $11.4 billion to $33.4 billion.

Much of the year over year change can be attributed to the Express Scripts deal, the company said (PDF), as its pharmacy membership jumped from 8.8 million in March 2018 to 74.9 million in March 2019, following the deal.

Membership in medical plans increased by 32,000 members from the end of 2018 and 224,000 from Q1 2018, reaching 17 million, Cigna said. Express Scripts also added 1.7 million customers in Q1 2019.

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“Our combination with Express Scripts is fueling additional innovative programs for the benefit of our customers and patients, as we accelerate our efforts to improve the affordability of health care," CEO David Cordani said in the release.

Cigna followed in the footsteps of other major payers this quarter and raised its 2019 guidance as a result of its Q1 performance. It projects between $6.24 billion and $6.4 billion in income for 2019, up from earlier estimates of $6.2 billion to $6.4 billion. The company also increased its revenue projections by $1 billion.

Earnings per share are projected to be $16.25 to $16.65, up from $16 to $16.50, Cigna said. This represents a 14% to 17% per share growth over 2018.