WellPoint beats Wall Street expectations as customers grow

D. Kevin Elliott | Bloomberg | Getty Images

WellPoint on Wednesday reported third-quarter profit that beat Wall Street expectations as the company's customer numbers grew due to growth in Medicaid and the creation of new subsidized individual health plans under the national healthcare reform law.

The U.S. health insurer, which operates Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in 14 states, raised its earnings per share outlook for 2014 and said that its estimate for medical cost increases remains in the range of 6.5 percent, plus or minus 50 basis points.

The company reported net profit of $630.9 million, or $2.22 per share, compared with $656.2 million, or $2.16 per share, a year earlier.

It said that earnings excluding losses and gains on investments and asset write-downs were $2.36 per share, up 12 percent from a year earlier. Analysts were expecting earnings of $2.27 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company had 37.5 million members at the end of the quarter, up 2 million members from a year earlier.

It raised its outlook for this year to $8.75 to $8.85 per share, above analyst expectations for $8.72 per share.