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BRIEF-Anthem Says COVID-19 Related Costs Expected To Persist Through The Balance Of 2020

Oct 28 (Reuters) - Anthem Inc:

* ANTHEM SAYS COVID-19 RELATED COSTS EXPECTED TO PERSIST THROUGH THE BALANCE OF 2020, MORE THAN OFFSETTING THE IMPACT OF DEFERRED UTILIZATION- CONF CALL

* ANTHEM ON 2021 OUTLOOK SAYS THERE IS MORE UNCERTAINTY THAN NORMAL, GIVEN THE UNKNOWNS RELATED TO THE TIMING OF A COVID-19 VACCINE OR IF ANOTHER ROUND OF DEFERRED UTILIZATION CAN BE SEEN - CONF CALL

* ANTHEM ON 2021 OUTLOOK SAYS “WOULD AFFIRM OUR LONG-TERM EPS GROWTH RATE OF 12% TO 15%, ALBEIT SKEWED TO THE LOWER HALF” - CONF CALL

* ANTHEM SAYS LOOKING AT 60 TO 80 CENTS OF TAILWIND IN 2021 RELATED TO REPEAL OF INDUSTRY-WIDE HEALTH INSURANCE FEE - CONF CALL

* ANTHEM SAYS Q4 EXPECTED TO RECORD AN ELEVATED MEDICAL LOSS RATIO DUE TO PENT UP DEMAND PLUS COVID-19 RELATED COSTS - CONF CALL

* ANTHEM SAYS Q4 MLR COULD EASILY BE 300 TO 350 BASIS POINTS HIGHER THAN NORMAL - CONF CALL

* ANTHEM SAYS THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE IS CERTAINLY LOWER THAN ORIGINALLY EXPECTED - CONF CALL

* ANTHEM SAYS PART OF THE ABOUT $600 MILLION BUSINESS OPTIMIZATION CHARGE IN Q3 “IS AROUND THE REDUCTION IN THE FOOTPRINT BECAUSE WE ARE REIMAGINING OUR OFFICE SPACE” - CONF CALL

* ANTHEM SAYS BUSINESS OPTIMIZATION IS A ONE-TIME CHARGE AND IS A STEP TO GET TO 11-12% SG&A RATIO BY 2023 - CONF CALL

* ANTHEM CFO SAYS “OUR STATED GOAL IS TO REINVEST ABOUT 50% OF OUR FREE CASH FLOW INTO EITHER M&A OR BACK INTO THE BUSINESS, 30% IN THE SHARE BUYBACK AND 20% IN THE DIVIDENDS” - CONF CALL Further company coverage:

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