Share “WellPoint board OKs 30 pct dividend hike”

WellPoint board OKs 30 pct dividend hike

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 21, 2013 at 9:43 am •  Published: February 21, 2013

WellPoint expects to return about $2 billion to shareholders this year, through the dividend and share buybacks. The company had about $1.8 billion remaining from its board-approved share buyback authorization at the end of 2012.

The company's stock has dropped about 5 percent since it announced on Feb. 12 that veteran hospital executive Joseph Swedish will become its next CEO.

Swedish, 61, will take over March 25, replacing interim CEO John Cannon. He has served as CEO of Trinity Health, a Catholic hospital system, since 2004. His selection surprised some analysts who expected the next leader to have more health insurance experience.

Swedish's career has focused on hospitals, but he has served as a director for another insurer, Coventry Health Care Inc.

Former CEO Angela Braly resigned last August after investors had become frustrated with the company's performance.

WellPoint runs Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in several states including New York and California. Its shares rose 9 cents to $62.67 in morning trading Thursday. The stock's price has climbed nearly 3 percent so far in 2013.