Maryland-based Coventry Health Care has reported positive fiscal results for its fourth quarter and full year 2004. The strong year for the health insurance provider, which included a record fourth quarter, was highlighted by a more than 30% increase in earnings for both the final quarter and full year.

Operating revenues totaled $1.38 billion for the quarter, a 13.2% increase over the fourth quarter of 2003. Net earnings were $91.8 million, or $1.01 per diluted share, a 31.7% increase over net earnings for the fourth quarter of 2003.

For the 12 months ended December 31, 2004, total revenues were $5.31 billion, a 17.1% increase over 2003, with net earnings of $3.72 per diluted share, a 35.3% increase over 2003.

The impressive results have been attributed to increased membership and higher premiums. By the year’s end Coventry had 2.51 million members, including a 5.3% increase in the fourth quarter alone.

I am pleased to report our 26th consecutive quarter of increased profitability, said Dale Wolf, CEO of Coventry. In addition to outstanding operating results, the Omnicare acquisition was closed and is fully integrated into Coventry’s operating and financial platforms. We also announced the First Health acquisition, which we subsequently closed on January 28, 2005.

The fourth quarter results demonstrate the strength of our traditional health plan business which, combined with the new First Health businesses, provides an outstanding platform for continued profitable growth, Wolf added.