Cigna sees '13 growth below average long-term forecast

Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:48pm EST

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(Reuters) - Health insurer Cigna Corp said on Friday that it expects 2013 earnings growth of 4 to 9 percent, below its average long-term forecasts as it confronts U.S. unemployment in the high-single digits, limited wage growth and a gradual rise in the use of medical services.

Cigna's outlook followed up on comments earlier this month from its executives about the "headwinds" expected in the coming year, as the company prepares for more aspects of U.S. healthcare reform to take hold.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, passed in 2010, includes a variety of changes and regulations that affect insurers, many of which will kick in by 2014.

Cigna President David Cordani said he does not expect the adoption of health exchanges among individuals and small companies in the next two years to hurt Cigna because it does not have a lot of those groups among its customers.

Cigna shares were down 1.5 percent at $50.10 on Friday afternoon on the New York Stock Exchange.

Chief Financial Officer Ralph Nicoletti told investors and analysts at a meeting on Friday that it expects total revenue will likely rise to a range of $31.5 billion to $32.5 billion next year. That is above analyst expectations of $29.3 billion revenue in 2013.

Revenue will grow across the company and its international business, which includes operations in Turkey and India, would increase the most at more than 20 percent.

Earnings per share will rise to a range of $5.80 to $6.25, excluding items, he said. Analysts were forecasting earnings of $6.32 per share ahead of the meeting. It was not immediately clear if those two figures were on the same basis.

(Reporting by Caroline Humer in New York; editing by Matthew Lewis)

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