UPDATE 3-Cigna boosts 1st-qtr profit as Anthem deal heads to U.S. top court

* Sees FY adj income from ops $9.25-$9.75 per share

Q1 adj earnings $2.77/shr vs est $2.45/shr

* Anthem files Supreme Court petition on Cigna (Recasts to add Supreme Court filing, Obamacare)

May 5 (Reuters) - Health insurer Cigna Corp, which is trying to ditch a takeover bid by Anthem Inc, said on Friday that first-quarter profit rose and it added hundreds of thousands of new members in its Obamacare individual business.

Cigna shares rose 1.3 percent in mid-day trading amid as broadly flat market.

Obamacare, often called the Affordable Care Act, has been a money-losing proposition for many insurers and some of Cigna's largest competitors, including Aetna Inc, have largely left the market.

Anthem said on Friday it will take the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court after an appeals court last week ruled against the proposed tie-up, the latest in a series of legal losses.

Analysts said they do not expect the Supreme Court to take up the case, but that the high court's schedule might prevent it from deciding to take up the matter until next year.

The odds of Anthem succeeding seem quite low, said Evercore ISI analyst Michael Newshel, who still expects a merger deal to fall apart.

Hanging in the balance is a $1.8 billion termination fee to which Cigna believes it is entitled.

Cigna tried to walk away after the U.S. Department of Justice blocked it on antitrust grounds. Anthem sued in U.S. district court, where a judge backed up the government's decision. Last week, the appeals court upheld the ruling.

The companies have a hearing scheduled in a separate lawsuit by Cigna that is pending in Delaware business court. In that case, Cigna sued to terminate the deal and Anthem won a temporary restraining order to block that move while it pursued its appeal.


Cigna Chief Executive Officer David Cordani declined on a conference call with analysts to discuss the legal cases.

Obamacare rolls rose to 353,000 members in the quarter from 193,000 a year ago. The growth was expected, he said, adding that new members' medical costs are not outside of expectations.

Cordani said it was too soon to talk about whether the company will participate next year in the individual insurance market, in which the government subsidizes healthcare costs based on income.

Insurers need to decide in the next few months but are waiting to see if Republicans fund the program's government subsidies as they push to replace Obamacare starting in 2019.

The U.S. House of Representatives narrowly approved a healthcare bill on Thursday. The Obamacare replacement measure heads to the Senate, where it faces an uphill battle.

Cigna manages large corporate and government health plans and has a small individual insurance business.

The company raised its 2017 forecast for adjusted income from operations to $9.25 to $9.75 per share, from $9.00 to $9.50. Wall Street expects $9.53 per share.

Net income rose to $598 million, or $2.30 per share, in the first quarter, from $519 million, or $2.00 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned $2.77 per share, above the average analyst estimate of $2.45, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Cigna shares rose $2.08 to $158.81. (Reporting by Caroline Humer in New York and Ankur Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Jeffrey Benkoe)