Health insurer Anthem reports lower-than-expected quarterly profit

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[January 27, 2016]  (Reuters) - Health insurer Anthem Inc, which is in the process of buying smaller rival Cigna Corp, reported a net profit that fell short of analysts' estimates, hampered by weakness in its Obamacare business.

While the company's overall enrollment grew by 1.1 million during the year, it lost 118,000 members in its individual business, which sells plans under the Affordable Care Act.

Anthem, which operates Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in more than a dozen states, said net profit fell to $180.9 million, or 68 cents per share, in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, from $506.7 million, or $1.80 per share, a year earlier.

The results included net negative adjustment items of 46 cents per share, the company said.

Total operating revenue rose to $20.02 billion from $18.78 billion. Analysts were expecting revenue of 19.89 billion according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

On an adjusted basis the company earned $1.14 per share, below the average analyst estimate of $1.20 per share.

Anthem's deal with Cigna and Aetna Inc's <AET.N> offer to buy smaller rival Humana Inc <HUM.N> are under heavy scrutiny as they would reduce the number of nationwide health insurers in the United States to three from five.

(Reporting by Amrutha Penumudi in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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