) posted first-quarter earnings per share of 86 cents. Goldman Sachs raised its estimates on Oxford.
Analyst Matthew Borsch says first-quarter EPS (which excluded a 32-cent litigation charge and a 5-cent benefit from reserve development) were very strong and of high quality. He raised his 2003 EPS estimate by 60 cents to $4.65 and his 2004 forecast by 85 cents to $5.30. Borsch says the company is benefiting from a slowdown in its medical cost trend at 8.4% vs. the 9.5% expected, pricing in-line at 10.5%. He says the results further confirm evidence of a slowdown in medical cost trend and confirm that stocks with greater EPS leverage from slowing medical cost trend should outperform in 2003. He is keeping his in-line rating on the stock and his attractive coverage view on managed care.