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.
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.”
Aetna is one of the nation’s leading diversified health care benefits companies, serving approximately 37.2 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental, behavioral health, group life and disability plans, and medical management capabilities and health care management services for Medicaid plans. Our customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, governmental units, government-sponsored plans, labor groups and expatriates. For more information, see www.aetna.com.
Certain information in this press release is forward-looking, including Aetna’s current estimates and projections as to operating earnings per share, 2008 pension benefit, 2009 pension expense and year-over-year increase in pension expense. Forward-looking information is based on management’s estimates, assumptions and projections, and is subject to significant uncertainties and other factors, many of which are beyond Aetna’s control. Important risk factors could cause actual future results and other future events to differ materially from those currently estimated by management, including adverse economic conditions in the U.S. and abroad which can significantly and adversely affect Aetna’s business and profitability; continued volatility and further deterioration of the U.S. and global capital markets, including fluctuations in interest rates, fixed income and equity prices and the value of financial assets, along with the general deterioration in the commercial paper, capital and credit markets, which can adversely impact the value of Aetna’s investment portfolio, Aetna’s profitability by reducing net investment income and/or Aetna’s financial position by causing us to realize additional impairments on our investments; failure to achieve desired rate increases and/or profitable membership growth due to the slowing economy and/or significant competition, especially in key geographic markets where membership is concentrated; adverse pricing or funding actions by federal or state government payors; and unanticipated increases in medical costs (including increased medical utilization, increases resulting from unfavorable changes in contracting or re-contracting with providers, increased pharmacy costs, changes in membership mix to lower-premium or higher-cost products or membership-adverse selection; as well as changes in medical cost estimates due to the necessary extensive judgment that is used in the medical cost estimation process, the considerable variability inherent in such estimates, and the sensitivity of such estimates to changes in medical claims payment patterns and changes in medical cost trends). Other important risk factors include, but are not limited to: adverse changes in size, product mix or medical cost experience of membership; adverse changes in federal or state government policies or regulation (including legislative proposals that would affect our business model and/or limit our ability to price for the risk we assume and/or reflect reasonable costs or profits in our pricing and other proposals, such as initiatives to eliminate or reduce ERISA pre-emption of state laws, that would increase potential litigation exposure or mandate coverage of certain health benefits); the ability to reduce administrative expenses while maintaining targeted levels of service and operating performance; the ability to improve relations with providers while taking actions to reduce medical costs and/or expand the services we offer; the ability to successfully integrate our businesses (including acquired businesses) and implement multiple strategic and operational initiatives simultaneously; our ability to integrate, simplify, and enhance our existing information technology systems and platforms to keep pace with changing customer and regulatory needs; the outcome of various litigation and regulatory matters, including litigation and ongoing reviews of business practices by various regulatory authorities (including the current industry-wide investigation by the New York Attorney General into certain payment practices with respect to out-of-network providers); reputational issues arising from data security breaches or other means; and increases in medical costs or Group Insurance claims resulting from any acts of terrorism, epidemics or other extreme events. For more discussion of important risk factors that may materially affect Aetna, please see the risk factors contained in Aetna’s 2007 Annual Report on Form 10-K and its Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2008, on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). You also should read Aetna’s 2007 Annual Report on Form 10-K and Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2008, on file with the SEC for a discussion of Aetna’s historical results of operations and financial conditions.
Aetna Media Contact:
Jeffrey A. Chaffkin