Cigna Corp. had a better second quarter than equities analysts expected, leading to positive but cautious reviews by Wall Street on the health insurer’s outlook for the rest of the year. Cigna executives credited strong returns from the payer’s Evernorth health services division, saying that they offset higher-than-expected costs related to COVID-19.

Cigna took in total revenues of $43.1 billion in the second quarter, and adjusted income from operations was $1.8 billion, or $5.24 per share. That earnings per share figure beat Wall Street’s projection of $4.96, according to Citi analyst Ralph Giacobbe. However, Cigna’s reported 85.4% medical loss ratio was higher than the 81.8% projected by analysts.

Continuing a trend from the first quarter, when Evernorth drove strong results for the firm, the health services segment was the biggest contributor to profits. Evernorth contributed an adjusted profit margin of 4.3%, or $1.4 billion in the second quarter. Giacobbe wrote in an Aug. 5 note to investors that Evernorth’s “revenue, earnings, and margin [were] all better than [Citi’s] estimates.”

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