Cigna Corp.(CI) said on Wednesday that third-quarter earnings fell as health-plan enrollment and premiums dropped, while last year the health insurer recorded a big gain tied to selling its retirement benefits business.

Cigna said net income fell to $259 million, or $2 per share, from $308 million, or $2.26 per share, in the year-earlier period.

The Philadelphia-based company said adjusted income from operations rose to $251 million, or $1.94 a share, from $230 million, or $1.69 per share, a year ago.

Analysts had expected Cigna to earn $1.59 per share, excluding special items, according to Reuters Estimates.

Revenue fell 11 percent to $4 billion. The company said premiums and fees fell to $3.4 billion from $3.6 billion due to lower membership.

Health-plan enrollment fell 9 percent to 9.1 million members compared to the year-ago period. Enrollment rose 1 percent compared with the second quarter.

Cigna forecast full-year 2005 adjusted income from operations to be $990 million to $1.02 billion, or $7.60 to $7.80 per share. The 2005 forecast includes estimated expenses of $10 million to $20 million tied to preparations for the new Medicare drug benefit.

Analysts expected 2005 earnings of $7.35 per share, excluding special items, according to Reuters Estimates.