NEW YORK — Humana Inc. swung to a fourth-quarter profit on lower costs and membership growth.

Humana is one of the nation’s biggest providers of Medicare Advantage, which involves privately run versions of the federal Medicare program for people who are over 65 or disabled. During the year, it took steps to cut long-term costs by starting an early retirement program and cutting about 1,300 positions.

The health insurer reported profit of $184 million, or $1.29 per share, after reporting a loss in the same period a year earlier.

Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring costs, were $2.06 per share.

Revenue rose 2.4 percent to $13.19 billion.

The results surpassed Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 11 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $2 per share, while seven analysts expected $13.03 billion in revenue.

For the year, the company reported profit of $2.45 billion, or $16.81 per share. Revenue was reported as $53.77 billion.

The Louisville, Kentucky company expects a mix of membership growth and a cut in corporate taxes to boost earnings in 2018.

Humana expects full-year adjusted earnings in 2018 earnings in the range of $13.50 to $14 per share, up from $11.71 in 2017.

Humana shares have increased 8.5 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has climbed roughly 1 percent. The stock has climbed 37 percent in the last 12 months.


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