Centene Inc. CNC delivered third-quarter 2019 adjusted earnings per share of 96 cents, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 1.1%. Also, the bottom line improved 5.6% year over year on the back of higher revenues.
In the third quarter, total revenues rose 17% to $19 billion from the year-ago period, primarily aided by the Health Insurance Marketplace business, expansions and new programs across many states in 2018 as well as 2019. Moreover, the top line surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate by nearly 3.3%. However, this upside was offset by the health insurer fee moratorium to some extent.
Quarterly Operational Update
As of Sep 30, 2019, managed care membership came in at 15.3 million, up 6% year over year.
Health Benefit Ratio (HBR) for the reported quarter was 88.2% compared with 86.3% in the prior-year period.
Adjusted Selling, General & Administrative (SG&A) expense ratio was 8.8% for the third quarter of 2019 compared with 10% for the same period last year.
Centene Corporation Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise
Centene Corporation price-consensus-eps-surprise-chart | Centene Corporation Quote
As of Sep 30, 2019, the company's cash and cash equivalents totaled $6.2 billion, up 16.3% from the figure at 2018 end.
As of Sep 30, 2019, total assets were up 10.8% from the level as of Dec 31, 2018.
Centene’s long-term debt summed $6.9 billion, up 4.9% from 2018-end level.
For the first nine months of 2019, cash outflow from operations was $2.1 billion, up 14.2% year over year.
2019 Outlook Retained
Following solid third-quarter results, the company has reiterated its 2019 guidance.
It expects revenues in the range of $73.6-$74.2 billion, same as the earlier projection.
Adjusted EPS is still expected in the band of $4.29-$4.49.
HBR is predicted within 86.6-87.1%.
Adjusted SG & A expense ratio is maintained between 9.1% and 9.6%.
Centene’s pending buyout of WellCare won approval from the insurance departments of 17 states. Nods came from the regions, namely Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont and Washington.
Centene and WellCare announced that the latter’s subsidiary will be selling its Missouri and Nebraska Medicaid plans to Anthem, Inc. However, this sale is subject to certain closing conditions. The strategic move is related to the $17-billion worth pending merger of Centene with WellCare, which is expected to be completed in the first half of 2020.
Centene announced the expansion of its offering in the 2020 Health Insurance Marketplace or exchange. It is extending its existence across 10 markets that are Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Washington.
Centene carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).
You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
Upcoming Releases From Medical Sector
Some better-ranked stocks from the medical sector are as follows:
Molina Healthcare, Inc MOH is set to report third-quarter 2019 earnings performance on Oct 29. The stock has a Zacks Rank #1 and an Earnings ESP of +0.92%.
MEDNAX, Inc MD is set to report third-quarter 2019 earnings on Nov 1. The stock has an Earnings ESP of +1.10% and a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).
AmerisourceBergen Corporation ABC has an Earnings ESP of +0.55% and a Zacks Rank of 3. The company is set to report third-quarter earnings on Nov 7.
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