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Shares of WellCare Health Plans (WCG) - Get WellCare Health Plans, Inc. Report and its planned merger partner, Centene (CNC) - Get Centene Corporation Report , rose after a strong third-quarter earnings report from WellCare, the Tampa, Fla., provider of managed-care health services.

WellCare reported net income of $241 million, or $4.74 a share, up 84% from $130.6 million, or $2.70, in the year-earlier quarter. Adjusted share earnings were $5.50 against $3.33.

Revenue advanced 41% to $7.14 billion from $5.06 billion.

A survey of analysts by FactSet produced consensus estimates of profit of $3.40 a share on revenue of $6.74 billion.

"All three business segments continue to contribute to our strong financial performance, driven by a combination of organic and acquired growth," WellCare CEO Ken Burdick said in a statement.

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The three areas include Medicaid, Medicare Advantage and Medicare prescription-drug plans.

In March, the St. Louis health insurer Centene agreed to purchase WellCare for $17.3 billion.

After releasing earnings last week, Centene said the deal's approval process "is ahead of schedule." The companies just need a nod from Illinois, New Jersey and the federal government to go ahead with the merger.

Centene and WellCare expect the transaction to close by June 30. Centene CEO Michael Neidorff told analysts last week that the deal could be approved earlier than expected, Forbes reported.

WellCare stock traded at $297.69, up 4.5%, while Centene shares traded at $53.51, up 7.2%.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held TK positions in the stocks mentioned.