Anthem's fourth-quarter earnings tumbled 64 percent as some of the Blue Cross Blue Shield insurer's expenses climbed in a performance that fell well short of Wall Street's profit expectations.

Anthem's fourth-quarter earnings tumbled 64 percent as some of the Blue Cross Blue Shield insurer's expenses climbed in a performance that fell well short of Wall Street's profit expectations.

The Indianapolis company said Wednesday that it earned $180.9 million in the final quarter of 2015, down from $506.7 million in the previous year's quarter.

Adjusted results totaled $1.14 per share in the most recent quarter, and operating revenue rose more than 6 percent to around $20 billion.

Analysts expected, on average, per-share earnings of $1.21 on $19.91 billion in revenue, according to a survey by the data firm FactSet.

Anthem runs plans in big markets like California, New York and Ohio. It also sells coverage on several public insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act.

Operating revenue from the insurer's government business, which includes Medicaid and Medicare coverage, jumped 17 percent to more than $10.6 billion, countering a decline from commercial and specialty coverage. Anthem made its name nationally as a provider of private Blue Cross Blue Shield coverage, but it is pegging more of its future growth on government business, which also includes coverage for government employees.

Anthem also booked a charge of $51.5 million in the quarter tied to its pending acquisition of rival insurer Cigna Corp. That deal is still going through regulatory review, but Anthem reaffirmed Wednesday that it still expects the transaction to close in the second half of this year.

The insurer also reaffirmed its forecast for 2016 adjusted earnings per share of greater than $10.80.

Analysts expect, on average, $10.90 per share.

Anthem Inc. shares closed at $137.76 Tuesday and have slipped about 1 percent so far this year after climbing around 11 percent last year.