Major managed companies say unusual events hurt their earnings in the fourth quarter of 2004.[@@]

WellPoint Inc., Indianapolis, the mammoth company created by the merger of Anthem Inc., Indianapolis, and WellPoint Health Networks Inc., Thousand Oaks, Calif., is report $185 million in net income for the latest quarter on $6.8 billion in revenue, compared with $209 million in net income on $4.3 billion in revenue from the same operations for the fourth quarter of 2003.

Net income fell partly because WellPoint spent $146 million to pay off some of its debt early, the company says.

WellPoint ended the quarter providing or administering health coverage for 28 million U.S. residents, up from 12 million a year earlier.

Humana Inc., Louisville, Ky., is reporting $47 million in net income for the fourth quarter of 2004 on $3.2 billion in revenue, compared with $66 million in net income on $3.2 billion in revenue for the fourth quarter of 2003.

The company’s commercial and Medicare units increased their earnings, but the company’s TriCare unit, which provides health coverage for military retirees, military dependents and some active-duty military personnel, generated lower profits because of the way the government has scheduled TriCare payments, Humana says.

Humana is expecting TriCare unit profits to increase when the next TriCare payment arrives.

Humana as a whole ended the fourth quarter providing or administering health coverage for 7 million U.S. residents, up from 6.8 million a year earlier.

A third managed care company, PacifiCare Health Systems Inc., Cypress, Calif., increased its fourth-quarter earnings.

PacifiCare is reporting $72 million in net income for the latest quarter on $3.2 billion in revenue, up from $31 million in net income on $2.8 billion in revenue.

PacifiCare ended the quarter providing or administering health coverage for 3.3 million U.S. residents, up from 3 million a year earlier.