Centene Corp. (CNC) - Get Centene Corporation Report rallied as much as 6.6% Tuesday after the health-care-plan provider reported strong revenue growth and adjusted earnings per share, both of which beat analysts' expectations. CNC also raised its forecast for full-year revenue on an expected spike in membership growth.
Adjusted EPS came in at $1.38 vs. analysts' $1.32 consensus estimates (with individual forecasts ranging from $1.24 to $1.41). Fourth-quarter revenue also totaled $16.56 billion vs. analysts' $16.33 billion consensus forecast, according to Bloomberg.
The company also boosted its 2019 EPS guidance to a range of $8.22-$8.62, or $4.11-$4.31 when adjusted for an upcoming 2-for-1 stock split.
"Looking ahead, the higher-than-expected membership growth in the Health Insurance Marketplace business, new contract wins and other strategic investments provide operating momentum heading into 2019," Chairman and CEO Michael F. Neidorff said in a statement.
The earnings beat and stronger outlook helped push Centene shares up to as high as $138.49, or +6.6%, in early trading Tuesday. However, the stock later pulled back to $130.78 shortly before noon ET, up 0.7% on the day.
Meanwhile, Centene reported on Monday that it won two out of six regions for North Carolina's Medicaid contracts. The news is not as impressive as other firms' who won all six regions, or statewide. Nevertheless, Oppenheimer's Michael Wiederhorn reiterated his buy rating on Centene on Tuesday and gave the stock a $165 price target.
"Overall, the results appear solid, and the outlook boost is particularly encouraging one month into the year," Wiederhorn said in a statement.
The analyst specializes in the health-care sector, covers 26 stocks, and has a success rate of 68.75%, according to TipRanks. Overall, Centene has 17 buy ratings, four holds and zero sells among analysts, according to Bloomberg.