Centene (CNC) Upgraded to Buy by Zacks Investment Research

Centene (NYSE:CNC) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a report issued on Friday. The firm currently has a $133.00 price target on the stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s price target indicates a potential upside of 11.37% from the company’s current price.

According to Zacks, “Centene’s shares have outperformed its industry’s gain in a year’s time. Moreover, it has witnessed its 2019 earnings estimates move north over the past 30 days. Its earnings have been supported by the acquisition of Fidelis Care, growth in the health insurance marketplace business, expansion in new programs in many of its states, other acquisitions  the return of the health insurer fee in 2018. Expansion of Marketplace business and a number of Medicaid and Medicare contract wins should lead to membership growth. Its strong cash flow generation capacity aids investment in business. The increase in earnings guidance for 2018 instills investor’s confidence in the company. Nevertheless, increasing operating costs remains a concern for the company. Apart from high level of debt, the company’s bottom line is substantially hurt by higher operating costs.”

CNC has been the subject of a number of other research reports. Cantor Fitzgerald reaffirmed a “buy” rating and set a $145.00 target price on shares of Centene in a research report on Thursday, December 13th. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group assumed coverage on Centene in a research report on Wednesday, September 19th. They issued an “overweight” rating and a $170.00 price objective for the company. Goldman Sachs Group cut Centene from a “conviction-buy” rating to a “buy” rating in a research report on Monday, December 17th. Oppenheimer increased their price objective on Centene from $146.00 to $158.00 and gave the company an “outperform” rating in a research report on Tuesday, October 2nd. Finally, ValuEngine cut Centene from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Monday, December 17th. Three analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and thirteen have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average price target of $155.55.



Centene stock traded up $1.00 during trading hours on Friday, reaching $119.42. 28,824 shares of the company were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 2,009,627. The stock has a market capitalization of $24.28 billion, a P/E ratio of 23.78, a PEG ratio of 0.98 and a beta of 1.27. The company has a quick ratio of 1.03, a current ratio of 1.03 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.59. Centene has a 12 month low of $97.61 and a 12 month high of $148.98.

Centene (NYSE:CNC) last announced its earnings results on Tuesday, October 23rd. The company reported $1.79 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.77 by $0.02. The firm had revenue of $16.18 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $15.93 billion. Centene had a return on equity of 14.42% and a net margin of 1.58%. The company’s revenue was up 36.0% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the prior year, the business earned $1.35 earnings per share. Sell-side analysts anticipate that Centene will post 7.04 earnings per share for the current year.

In related news, Director Robert K. Ditmore sold 15,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Thursday, October 25th. The stock was sold at an average price of $129.24, for a total value of $1,938,600.00. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, EVP Mark J. Brooks sold 2,540 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, December 18th. The stock was sold at an average price of $121.26, for a total value of $308,000.40. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 3.00% of the stock is owned by company insiders.

Hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of the stock. BlackRock Inc. raised its stake in Centene by 6.1% during the third quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 16,818,075 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,434,920,000 after acquiring an additional 970,422 shares in the last quarter. Capital International Investors acquired a new position in Centene during the third quarter worth $1,012,845,000. FMR LLC raised its stake in Centene by 203.4% during the third quarter. FMR LLC now owns 2,419,139 shares of the company’s stock worth $350,243,000 after acquiring an additional 1,621,757 shares in the last quarter. Northern Trust Corp increased its stake in shares of Centene by 15.6% in the second quarter. Northern Trust Corp now owns 2,306,279 shares of the company’s stock valued at $284,156,000 after buying an additional 311,998 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Deutsche Bank AG increased its stake in shares of Centene by 7.7% in the third quarter. Deutsche Bank AG now owns 1,968,276 shares of the company’s stock valued at $284,963,000 after buying an additional 141,514 shares in the last quarter. 88.64% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

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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