Centene (CNC) Downgraded by Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Centene (NYSE:CNC) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a report published on Thursday.

According to Zacks, “Centene’s shares have outperformed its industry’s gain in the past year. The company has been performing really well on the back of higher revenues, primarily driven by growth in the Health Insurance Marketplace business in 2018, strategic acquisitions, expansions and new programs across many of the states in 2017 and 2018 as well as the reinstatement of the health insurer fee in 2018. It has raised its 2018 guidance after solid performance in the second quarter. The company has seen substantial inorganic growth in the last five years. However, rising expenses continue to weigh on its margins. Rising debt burden also remains a concern for the company.”

Several other research firms have also recently commented on CNC. Leerink Swann lifted their target price on shares of Centene from $120.00 to $130.00 and gave the stock a market perform rating in a research report on Monday, June 18th. Piper Jaffray Companies reissued a buy rating and set a $152.00 target price on shares of Centene in a research report on Wednesday, July 25th. Cantor Fitzgerald lifted their target price on shares of Centene to $137.00 and gave the stock an overweight rating in a research report on Monday, June 18th. Credit Suisse Group lifted their target price on shares of Centene from $125.00 to $134.00 and gave the stock a neutral rating in a research report on Wednesday, July 25th. Finally, Wells Fargo & Co lifted their target price on shares of Centene from $126.00 to $142.00 and gave the stock an outperform rating in a research report on Monday, June 18th. Four equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and fifteen have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock currently has an average rating of Buy and a consensus price target of $139.18.

NYSE CNC traded up $0.02 during trading hours on Thursday, hitting $138.49. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 970,915 shares, compared to its average volume of 1,385,181. Centene has a 52 week low of $81.00 and a 52 week high of $139.93. The stock has a market cap of $28.42 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 27.53, a PEG ratio of 1.33 and a beta of 0.79. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.59, a quick ratio of 1.26 and a current ratio of 1.25.

Centene (NYSE:CNC) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, July 24th. The company reported $1.80 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.77 by $0.03. Centene had a net margin of 2.06% and a return on equity of 14.57%. The business had revenue of $14.18 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $13.82 billion. During the same quarter last year, the firm earned $1.59 EPS. The firm’s revenue for the quarter was up 18.6% compared to the same quarter last year. sell-side analysts predict that Centene will post 7.08 EPS for the current year.

In other news, EVP Brandy Burkhalter sold 3,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, July 26th. The shares were sold at an average price of $131.90, for a total transaction of $395,700.00. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this hyperlink. Also, EVP Keith H. Williamson sold 2,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, June 11th. The stock was sold at an average price of $120.00, for a total transaction of $240,000.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last 90 days, insiders have sold 13,750 shares of company stock valued at $1,785,800. 3.00% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

Several hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of the company. BlackRock Inc. increased its stake in shares of Centene by 15.5% during the 2nd quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 15,847,653 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,952,589,000 after purchasing an additional 2,122,661 shares during the last quarter. Wells Fargo & Company MN grew its stake in Centene by 5.2% in the 2nd quarter. Wells Fargo & Company MN now owns 3,309,046 shares of the company’s stock valued at $407,707,000 after buying an additional 162,597 shares in the last quarter. JPMorgan Chase & Co. grew its stake in Centene by 1.0% in the 1st quarter. JPMorgan Chase & Co. now owns 2,725,000 shares of the company’s stock valued at $291,222,000 after buying an additional 26,402 shares in the last quarter. Jennison Associates LLC grew its stake in Centene by 47.6% in the 2nd quarter. Jennison Associates LLC now owns 2,113,026 shares of the company’s stock valued at $260,346,000 after buying an additional 681,847 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Northern Trust Corp grew its stake in Centene by 0.8% in the 1st quarter. Northern Trust Corp now owns 1,994,281 shares of the company’s stock valued at $213,129,000 after buying an additional 16,383 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors own 75.82% of the company’s stock.

Centene Company Profile

Centene Corporation operates as a diversified and multi-national healthcare enterprise that provides programs and services to under-insured and uninsured individuals in the United States. It operates through two segments, Managed Care and Specialty Services. The Managed Care segment offers health plan coverage to individuals through government subsidized programs, including Medicaid, the State children's health insurance program, long-term care, foster care, and dual eligible individual, as well as aged, blind, or disabled programs.

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