OLDWICK, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--
A.M. Best Co. has affirmed the financial strength rating (FSR) of
A (Excellent) and issuer credit ratings (ICR) of “a+” of the insurance
and health maintenance organization (HMO) subsidiaries ofAetna Inc.(Aetna)
(NYSE: AET). Concurrently, A.M. Best has affirmed the FSR of A
(Excellent) and ICR of “a” of Aetna Insurance Company of Connecticut
and the FSR of A (Excellent) and ICRs of “a” of Continental Life
Insurance Company of Brentwood, Tennessee (Continental Life) and its
subsidiary, American Continental Insurance Company(American
Continental) (both headquartered in Franklin, TN). A.M. Best also has
affirmed the ICR of “bbb+” and debt ratings of Aetna. The outlook for
all ratings is stable. These companies are headquartered in Hartford,
CT, except where specified. (See below for a detailed listing of the
companies and ratings.)
The rating affirmations of the lead operating entity, Aetna Life
Insurance Company(ALIC), and the insurance and HMO subsidiaries of
Aetna reflect their strong operating and net income trends, which have
been heavily favored by lower utilization rates. However, A.M. Best
expects the medical loss ratios to rise to more normal levels over the
medium term, which could impact the organization’s earnings.
Furthermore, ALIC’s financial results through March 31, 2012 indicate a
marginal increase in cost trends and membership may be challenged in the
near term. Aetna maintains a good level of liquidity through parent
company cash, subsidiary dividends, an untapped $1.5 billion credit
facility, and it actively uses its commercial paper program. The
consolidated Aetna insurance operations’ favorable net income has
contributed to the group’s solid capital position through retained
The consolidated membership of Aetna stabilized in 2011 after a period
of decline; however, near-term membership has decreased and is partially
pressured by the competitive environment as well as the economic
weakness in the marketplace as the recovery has been slow. Additionally,
Aetna has placed a strategic focus on growing its government-sponsored
businesses, and has acquired companies to support these initiatives.
Some of this investment has been realized in its Medicare lines where
membership is growing; however, the company has had set backs in
securing long-term multi-year contracts in both the federal and state
level programs. A.M. Best acknowledges that Aetna’s insured government
business is not a large percentage of its overall earnings. Any future
acquisitions may result in an increase in Aetna’s debt to capital should
it issue debt or utilize its commercial paper program to fund these
acquisitions. A.M. Best expects Aetna’s debt to capital to be managed to
a range of or near 30% over the medium term.
The company is well positioned at its current rating level. Negative
rating actions may occur should Aetna increase its financial leverage
above A.M. Best’s expectations, its interest coverage deteriorates,
risk-adjusted capital declines at its core operating subsidiaries, or
its operating earnings significantly weaken.
The FSR of A (Excellent) and ICRs of “a+” have been affirmed for the
following insurance and HMO subsidiaries of Aetna Inc.:
The following debt ratings have been affirmed:
-- “bbb+” $750 million 6.0% of senior unsecured notes, due 2016
-- “bbb+” $500 million 6.5% of senior unsecured notes, due 2018
-- “bbb+” $800 million 6.625% of senior unsecured notes, due 2036
-- “bbb+” $700 million 6.75% of senior unsecured notes, due 2037
-- “bbb+” $750 million 3.95% of senior unsecured notes, due 2020
-- “bbb+” $500 million 4.5% of senior unsecured notes, due 2042
-- “bbb+” $500 million 4.125% of senior unsecured notes, due 2021
-- “bbb+” $250 million 1.75% of senior unsecured notes, due 2017
-- AMB-2 on commercial paper
The following indicative ratings on universal shelf securities have been
-- “bbb+” on senior unsecured debt
-- “bbb” on subordinated unsecured debt
-- “bbb-” on preferred stock
The methodology used in determining these ratings is Best’s Credit
Rating Methodology, which provides a comprehensive explanation of A.M.
Best’s rating process and contains the different rating criteria
employed in the rating process. Key criteria utilized include:
“Understanding BCAR for Life/Health Insurers”; “Understanding Universal
BCAR”; “Risk Management and the Rating Process for Insurance Companies”;
“Rating Members of Insurance Groups”; “Rating Commercial Paper”;
“Evaluating Country Risk”; and “Insurance Holding Company and Debt
Ratings.” Best’s Credit Rating Methodology can be found at www.ambest.com/ratings/methodology.
Founded in 1899, A.M. Best Company is the world's oldest and most
authoritative insurance rating and information source. For more
information, visit www.ambest.com.
Copyright © 2012 by A.M. Best Company, Inc.ALL RIGHTS
A.M. Best Co.Wayne KaminskiSenior Financial Analyst(908)
439-2200, ext. firstname.lastname@example.orgSally
RosenManaging Senior Financial Analyst(908) 439-2200, ext.
MorrowSenior Manager, Public Relations(908) 439-2200, ext.
PeavyAssistant Vice President, Public Relations(908)
439-2200, ext. email@example.com
Source: A.M. Best Co.