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Insurer Cigna's 1Q profit, 2014 forecast climb

BLOOMFIELD, Conn. (AP) -- Cigna's first-quarter earnings soared compared with last year when the health insurer paid heavily to exit a couple businesses that had dragged on its profitability.

But it still topped profit and revenue expectations when adjusted for one-time events, and it raised its outlook for the year.

The Bloomfield company recorded $558 million in after-tax charges in the same quarter last year. Most of that was tied to a deal with Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. to provide reinsurance for its guaranteed minimum income benefits and variable annuity death benefits businesses.

While Cigna discontinued both businesses in 2000, they could still do damage when the market turned sour as Cigna's liabilities toward them would increase. The deal kept the businesses on Cigna's balance sheet, but the company no longer counts the profit or loss on its quarterly income statements.

Cigna Corp. is the nation's fourth largest health insurer based on enrollment. In this year's first quarter, it earned $528 million, or $1.92 per share. That compares with $57 million, or 20 cents per share, last year.

Adjusted earnings totaled $1.83 per share, easily surpassing the $1.54 per share that analysts had banked on.

Revenue climbed 3.8 percent to $8.5 billion, also better than the $8.43 billion analysts had expected, according to a poll by FactSet.

Cigna said Thursday that it now expects to earn between $7.05 and $7.35 per share in 2014. That's up from the forecast it made in February for earnings between $6.80 and $7.20 per share.

Analysts forecast earnings of $7.14 per share.

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