Zacks Investment Research Lowers Centene (CNC) to Hold

Zacks Investment Research cut shares of Centene (NYSE:CNC) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research note published on Wednesday morning, Zacks.com reports. The brokerage currently has $59.00 target price on the stock.

According to Zacks, “Centene’s shares have gained against its industry’s loss quarter to date. Its momentum in revenue growth is likely to grow on the back of rising membership and expansion. The company boasts an impressive inorganic growth strategy, driven by buyouts. It recently entered into an agreement with WellCare, which will position the company as the largest Medicaid managed care organization in the country. Medical membership of the company has been rising over the past several quarters owing to contract wins. However, mounting operating costs remain a headwind. In 2019, adjusted SG&A expense ratio is estimated between 9.3% and 9.8%. Also, high debt level increases leverage risk.”

Other equities analysts have also issued reports about the company. SunTrust Banks dropped their price target on Centene to $80.00 and set a buy rating for the company in a research note on Wednesday, April 24th. Cantor Fitzgerald reissued a buy rating and set a $83.00 price target on shares of Centene in a research note on Sunday, April 21st. Cowen reissued a buy rating and set a $77.00 price target on shares of Centene in a research note on Sunday, March 31st. Jefferies Financial Group reissued a buy rating and set a $76.00 price target on shares of Centene in a research note on Thursday, February 7th. Finally, Citigroup raised Centene from a neutral rating to a buy rating and set a $69.00 price target for the company in a research note on Friday, May 10th. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, three have assigned a hold rating and seventeen have given a buy rating to the stock. The company presently has an average rating of Buy and an average price target of $75.69.

Shares of Centene stock opened at $57.75 on Wednesday. Centene has a 12 month low of $45.44 and a 12 month high of $74.49. The company has a market cap of $23.56 billion, a P/E ratio of 16.31, a PEG ratio of 0.96 and a beta of 1.21. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.58, a current ratio of 1.04 and a quick ratio of 1.04.

Centene (NYSE:CNC) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, April 23rd. The company reported $1.39 EPS for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.32 by $0.07. Centene had a return on equity of 14.60% and a net margin of 1.66%. The company had revenue of $18.44 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $17.44 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the company earned $2.17 earnings per share. The firm’s revenue was up 39.8% on a year-over-year basis. Research analysts predict that Centene will post 4.38 earnings per share for the current year.

Several large investors have recently bought and sold shares of the company. BlackRock Inc. lifted its stake in shares of Centene by 101.6% in the 1st quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 36,536,247 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,940,075,000 after purchasing an additional 18,409,531 shares during the last quarter. Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund lifted its stake in shares of Centene by 15,334.7% in the 4th quarter. Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund now owns 9,787,010 shares of the company’s stock valued at $85,000 after purchasing an additional 9,723,601 shares during the last quarter. Geode Capital Management LLC lifted its stake in shares of Centene by 109.2% in the 1st quarter. Geode Capital Management LLC now owns 6,031,898 shares of the company’s stock valued at $319,759,000 after purchasing an additional 3,148,039 shares during the last quarter. AQR Capital Management LLC lifted its stake in shares of Centene by 123.8% in the 1st quarter. AQR Capital Management LLC now owns 5,481,442 shares of the company’s stock valued at $287,830,000 after purchasing an additional 3,031,820 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Northern Trust Corp lifted its stake in shares of Centene by 103.3% in the 1st quarter. Northern Trust Corp now owns 4,704,989 shares of the company’s stock valued at $249,834,000 after purchasing an additional 2,390,842 shares during the last quarter. 90.79% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

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. The company's Managed Care segment offers health plan coverage to individuals through government subsidized programs, including Medicaid, the State children's health insurance program, long-term services and support, foster care, and medicare-medicaid plans, which covers dually eligible individuals, as well as aged, blind, or disabled programs.

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