Centene (CNC) Stock Rating Upgraded by Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Centene (NYSE:CNC) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note published on Friday. They currently have $133.00 price target on the stock.

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.”

Several other research analysts have also weighed in on CNC. Cantor Fitzgerald restated a buy rating and set a $145.00 price objective on shares of Centene in a research note on Thursday, December 13th. Leerink Swann upgraded shares of Centene from a market perform rating to an outperform rating and set a $159.68 price objective on the stock in a research note on Wednesday, October 24th. ValuEngine lowered shares of Centene from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research note on Monday, December 17th. assumed coverage on shares of Centene in a research note on Wednesday, September 19th. They set an overweight rating and a $170.00 price objective on the stock. Finally, Oppenheimer boosted their price objective on shares of Centene from $146.00 to $158.00 and gave the stock an outperform rating in a research note on Tuesday, October 2nd. Three investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and thirteen have given a buy rating to the company. The stock presently has an average rating of Buy and a consensus price target of $155.55.

Centene stock opened at $119.98 on Friday. The stock has a market cap of $24.28 billion, a PE ratio of 23.85, a PEG ratio of 0.98 and a beta of 1.27. Centene has a fifty-two week low of $97.61 and a fifty-two week high of $148.98. The company has a current ratio of 1.03, a quick ratio of 1.03 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.59.

Centene (NYSE:CNC) last released its quarterly earnings data on Tuesday, October 23rd. The company reported $1.79 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $1.77 by $0.02. The company had revenue of $16.18 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $15.93 billion. Centene had a net margin of 1.58% and a return on equity of 14.42%. Centene’s revenue for the quarter was up 36.0% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period in the previous year, the business earned $1.35 EPS. Research analysts expect that Centene will post 7.04 EPS for the current fiscal year.

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

Several hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in CNC. Scout Investments Inc. bought a new stake in Centene in the 4th quarter valued at about $36,633,000. First Hawaiian Bank boosted its holdings in Centene by 58.1% in the 4th quarter. First Hawaiian Bank now owns 19,493 shares of the company’s stock valued at $2,248,000 after purchasing an additional 7,164 shares during the period. Cerebellum GP LLC bought a new stake in Centene in the 4th quarter valued at about $147,000. CENTRAL TRUST Co boosted its holdings in Centene by 5.9% in the 4th quarter. CENTRAL TRUST Co now owns 3,838 shares of the company’s stock valued at $443,000 after purchasing an additional 215 shares during the period. Finally, Neville Rodie & Shaw Inc. boosted its holdings in Centene by 5.3% in the 4th quarter. Neville Rodie & Shaw Inc. now owns 2,000 shares of the company’s stock valued at $231,000 after purchasing an additional 100 shares during the period. 88.64% 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. 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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