Friday, January 29, 2010

Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM): Q4 Earnings Preview 2009

Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) is scheduled to release its financial results for fourth quarter of fiscal year 2009 before the opening bell on Monday, February 1, 2010. Analysts, on average, expect the company to report earnings of $1.48 a share on revenue of $7.78 billion. In the year ago quarter, the company reported earnings of $1.07 per share on revenue of $7.49 billion.

Humana Inc. provides various health and supplemental benefit plans for employer groups, government benefit programs, and individuals in the United States. The company operates in two segments, Government and Commercial.

In recent quarters, the company has consistently generated solid income from its government business in posting strong profit. As of September 30, Humana's Medicare Advantage membership surpassed 1.5 million , up 11 percent from a year ago. The health insurer anticipates net growth of 20,000 to 60,000 members in its Medicare Advantage individual offerings in 2010.Medicare Advantage plans are government-sponsored, privately run programs for seniors that offer comprehensive health coverage.In December, Humana won a temporary extension of its contract to administer Tricare benefits in the south region through March 31, 2011, implying that the company will continue to draw income from the Tricare business even as widely anticipated cutbacks in Medicare Advantage diminish profits from its biggest line of business. The contract was scheduled to expire on March 31, 2010.Tricare is the government health plan for military service members, their families and survivors. Commercial insurers are contracted to administer the benefits domestically in three regions: South, North and West.

In the preceding third quarter, the Louisville, Kentucky based company earned $301.5 million, or $1.78 per share, compared to net income of $183.0 million, or $1.09 per share, in the prior-year quarter. Total revenues for the quarter increased to $7.7 billion from $7.1 billion in the comparable quarter last year. Analysts, on average, expected the company to earn $1.77 per share on revenue of $7.82 billion.

For the full year 2009, the company anticipates earnings of approximately $6.15 per share.

For the full year 2010, the company expects to report earnings in the range of $5.05 per share to $5.25 per share.

In November, Humana announced that it will offer many new Medicare plans across the U.S. in 2010, providing consumers a wide variety of choices, including Medicare Advantage plans that feature affordable monthly premiums while offering health-and-wellness benefits and cost savings compared to what's available through Original Medicare. The Medicare enrollment period began Sunday, November 15, 2009, for plans that take effect as soon as January 1, 2010.Humana said it will continue to offer Medicare Advantage plans that feature benefits not available to people enrolled in Original Medicare - at a cost that, in many cases, is lower than Original Medicare. Humana will also offer more than 100 Medicare prescription-drug plans in 2010, including a new cost-saving "Value PDP" - which will be available in nearly half of Medicare's 34 regions in 2010, replacing one of the 2009 plans in those areas.

Recently, home health provider Amedisys Inc. said Wednesday it signed a contract to provide home health services to Humana Inc.'s Medicare Advantage members. The deal between Amedisys and Humana covers about 1.5 million participants.

Shares of Humana and other health insurance stocks have rallied since last fall, as the push for health care reform in Washington began to stumble. Investors and analysts had worried for months about the impact any reform push may have on the industry.

The company's stock currently trades at a forward P/E (fye 31-Dec-10) of 9.11 and PEG ratio (5 yr expected) of 0.88. In terms of stock performance, Humana shares have gained 30 percent over the past three months.

Full Disclosure: None.
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