Aetna Reaffirms 2008 Earnings Guidance, Updates 2009 Preliminary Earnings Guidance
HARTFORD, Conn. — Aetna (NYSE: AET) said today that Chairman and CEO Ronald A. Williams will make a presentation at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco today during which he intends to reaffirm the company’s full-year 2008 operating earnings per share guidance of $3.90 to $3.95. (1)
Aetna also will update its preliminary guidance on certain 2009 performance metrics, including full-year 2009 operating earnings per share. Aetna currently projects full-year 2009 operating earnings per share growth to be 12 percent to 14 percent excluding the projected year-over-year increase in pension expense, consistent with Aetna’s prior guidance. Including the projected year-over-year increase in pension expense of $.54 per share, Aetna projects full-year 2009 operating earnings per share to be slightly lower than 2008. Aetna’s projected 2008 operating earnings per share include approximately $.15 per share of pension benefit. As a result of the significant decline in equity markets experienced during 2008, Aetna’s projected 2009 operating earnings per share include a pension expense of approximately $.39 per share, or a projected year-over-year increase of $.54 per share. Aetna’s previous guidance provided on October 29, 2008, included a year-over-year increase in pension expense range of $.30 to $.40 per share; but since that time, the equity markets and interest rates have declined, resulting in an additional increase in Aetna’s net pension obligations as of the December 31, 2008 measurement date.
“Aetna’s business fundamentals remain strong and we enter 2009 with what we believe will be industry-leading gains in membership despite the weakening economy,” Williams said. “The reduction in expected operating earnings per share is due to the increase in expected year-over-year increase in pension expense. Excluding that impact, we expect operating earnings per share to grow by 12 to 14 percent in 2009.”
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