How The Wheels Came Off WellPoint's Bus

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WellPoint (NYS: WLP) reported earnings on Jan. 25. Here are the numbers you need to know.

The 10-second takeaway
For the quarter ended Dec. 31 (Q4), WellPoint missed slightly on revenues and whiffed on earnings per share.

Compared to the prior-year quarter, revenue increased and earnings per share dropped significantly.

Margins dropped across the board.

Revenue details
WellPoint logged revenue of $15.2 billion. The 12 analysts polled by S&P Capital IQ looked for sales of $15.4 billion. Sales were 4.6% higher than the prior-year quarter's $14.4 billion.

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Source: S&P Capital IQ. Quarterly periods. Dollar amounts in millions.

EPS details
Non-GAAP EPS came in at $0.99. The 22 earnings estimates compiled by S&P Capital IQ predicted $1.14 per share on the same basis. GAAP EPS of $0.96 for Q4 were 31% lower than the prior-year quarter's $1.39 per share.

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Source: S&P Capital IQ. Quarterly periods. Figures may be non-GAAP to maintain comparability with estimates.

Margin details
For the quarter, gross margin was 18.8%, 370 basis points worse than the prior-year quarter. Operating margin was 3.9%, 200 basis points worse than the prior-year quarter. Net margin was 2.2%, 150 basis points worse than the prior-year quarter.

Looking ahead
Next quarter's average estimate for revenue is $15.4 billion. On the bottom line, the average EPS estimate is $2.32.

Next year's average estimate for revenue is $62.7 billion. The average EPS estimate is $7.74.

Investor sentiment
The stock has a four-star rating (out of five) at Motley Fool CAPS, with 886 members out of 944 rating the stock outperform, and 58 members rating it underperform. Among 315 CAPS All-Star picks (recommendations by the highest-ranked CAPS members), 306 give WellPoint a green thumbs-up, and nine give it a red thumbs-down.

Of Wall Street recommendations tracked by S&P Capital IQ, the average opinion on WellPoint is outperform, with an average price target of $86.94.

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At the time this article was published Seth Jayson had no position in any company mentioned here at the time of publication. You can view his stock holdings here. He is co-advisor ofMotley Fool Hidden Gems, which provides new small-cap ideas every month, backed by a real-money portfolio. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of WellPoint. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy

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