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Centene (CNC) - Get Free Report traded higher in premarket trading Tuesday after the health insurer's third-quarter adjusted earnings of 96 cents a share beat analysts' estimates by 1 cent and revenue rose 17% from a year earlier.

In the third quarter of 2018, Centene earned $1.79 a share on an adjusted basis on revenue of $16.18 billion.

Centene said its health benefits ratio, which represents medical costs as a percentage of premium revenue, was 88.2% in the third quarter vs. 86.3% a year earlier.

Managed care membership in the period rose 6.1% to 15.3 million. Centene said membership in its Medicaid health insurance plans, the company's biggest business, rose to 8.74 million in the third quarter from 8.68 million last year.

The company reiterated it expects fiscal-year adjusted earnings of $4.29 to $4.49 a share.

"We are pleased with our third-quarter results which reflect growth in our marketplace business, Medicaid business, and new programs, demonstrating the benefits of our diversification strategy on our healthcare enterprise. Looking ahead, we will continue to further enhance our leadership position in government-sponsored healthcare," said Michael F. Neidorff, Centene's chairman, president and CEO.

Centene reached an agreement in March to acquire WellCare Health Plans (WCG) - Get Free Report for $17.3 billion. On Tuesday, Centene said merger recently has received approvals from insurance and healthcare departments in Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia, Ohio and Texas, bringing the total number of approvals to 24 states.

The stock rose 1.49% to $46.45 in premarket trading.

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