Medibank in rude health despite bruising data breach
Thousands more Australians took up Medibank policies last year despite the hack of millions of customers' data, helping the health insurance provider to a solid second-half profit boost.
Net profit rose 5.9 per cent to $233 million for the half ending December 31, the company reported on Thursday, despite a one-off $26.2m expense mopping up the data breach.
The result was substantially better than analyst expectations, with Bloomberg estimating a profit of $220m.
Despite losing net 13,000 policies after the October public relations debacle, Medibank policyholders increased by 35,000 over the full year.
Policy numbers have been back on the rise since the start of February with an additional 200 net policyholders, compared to a 1,100 loss in January.
Chief executive David Koczkar said the company continues to support customers whose data was breached, including mental health and wellbeing aid, identity protection and financial hardship measures.
"We recognise the significant impact the cybercrime event has had on our customers," he said.
"There is more work to do, and the lessons we have learnt from the cybercrime will continue to shape our response and we will emerge stronger."
Medibank expects to pay another $15m to $20m in the second half, including additional non-recurring investment in IT security.
Underlying health insurance revenue grew 5.6 per cent to $3.8b, driven in part by policy growth and better margins in the non-resident business.
International policyholders increased 34 per cent following the reopening of international borders.
"We will continue to focus on growing our share in this market as more international students, visitors and workers return to Australia," Mr Koczkar said.
Meanwhile, Medibank Health revenue increased 5.9 per cent to $139.5m, as recovery in travel insurance sales and growth in health and wellbeing offset lower telehealth and home-care revenue.
Mr Koczkar identified increased investment in short-stay hospitals as a potential avenue for future growth.
The company declared an interim dividend of 6.3c per share, fully franked, in line with analyst expectations.
Medibank shares rose 5.5 per cent to $3.25 by 1pm.