Aetna announced on Monday that it expects to close its $35 billion acquisition of Humana in the second half of the year. The deal is currently being reviewed by national and state-based regulators. In a statement from the company, Chairman and CEO Mark Bertolini said that Aetna has been working diligently with regulators on a final approval.
Critics of Aetna’s deal have said the deal will result in less competition in insurance markets, but Aetna executives say its business largely complements Humana’s. Humana is one of the nation’s leading Medicare Advantage coverage providers. Health insurance is Aetna’s main product, and most of its enrollment comes from commercial coverage sold through employers or directly to individuals.
Aetna, the nation’s third largest health insurer, recently reported a better-than-expected profit in the quarter ended Dec. 31. The company wrapped up 2015 with a 38-percent surge in fourth quarter earnings. In the final quarter of 2015, Aetna earned $320.8 million, higher than the $232 million profit recorded in the final quarter of 2014. Adjusted earnings totaled $1.37 per share while operating revenue rose 2 percent to $15.1 billion.
Aetna said on Monday that its business selling individual insurance on the exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act improved at the end of year. The operating losses for the business narrowed to 3 to 4 percent from the mid-single digits earlier in the year. Aetna’s total medical enrollment came in nearly flat, compared to the final quarter of 2014, at about 23.5 million.
In the new year, Aetna expects adjusted earnings of at least $7.75 per share. According to a poll by FactSet, analysts were estimating per-share earnings of $8.05 on average. Shares of the Hartford, Connecticut, company climbed 92 cents to $102.73 Monday morning while broader indexes slipped less than 1 percent. The stock had fallen roughly 6 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has decreased 5 percent.