Centene (NYSE:CNC) Cut to Hold at Zacks Investment Research

Centene (NYSE:CNC) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “strong-buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report released on Friday, December 22nd.

According to Zacks, “Year to date, Centene’s shares have outperformed the industry. The company’s strong and consistent performance is likely to have generated confidence among the investors. It has seen substantial inorganic growth in the last five years. The acquisition of Health Net in 2016 bolstered the company’s growth, expansion and asset base. Its solid financial position provides a major boost to its capital deployment initiatives. The company’s strong Managed care segment also contributes to its strong results. The guidance raise for 2017 and strong earnings outlook for 2018 instills our confidence in the company. However, rising level of debt hurts the company's profitability. Moreover, increasing costs also continue to weigh on the margins.”

Several other analysts also recently issued reports on the stock. Oppenheimer lifted their price target on shares of Centene from $111.00 to $122.00 and gave the company an “outperform” rating in a research report on Wednesday, December 20th. Jefferies Group lifted their price objective on shares of Centene from $112.00 to $115.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a report on Monday, December 18th. Piper Jaffray Companies reaffirmed a “buy” rating and set a $134.00 price objective on shares of Centene in a report on Monday, December 18th. Cantor Fitzgerald reaffirmed a “buy” rating and set a $115.00 price objective on shares of Centene in a report on Monday, December 18th. Finally, Credit Suisse Group started coverage on shares of Centene in a report on Thursday, November 2nd. They set a “neutral” rating and a $102.00 price objective on the stock. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, three have assigned a hold rating, seventeen have given a buy rating and one has issued a strong buy rating to the stock. The company currently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and a consensus target price of $104.21.

Shares of Centene (NYSE:CNC) opened at $109.48 on Friday. The company has a market cap of $18,890.00, a P/E ratio of 22.62, a PEG ratio of 1.34 and a beta of 0.70. Centene has a 52-week low of $61.15 and a 52-week high of $109.70. The company has a current ratio of 0.99, a quick ratio of 0.99 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.71.

Centene (NYSE:CNC) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, October 24th. The company reported $1.35 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $1.24 by $0.11. Centene had a net margin of 1.81% and a return on equity of 14.79%. The business had revenue of $11.90 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $11.75 billion. During the same quarter last year, the firm posted $1.12 EPS. Centene’s revenue was up 9.7% compared to the same quarter last year. research analysts expect that Centene will post 4.99 earnings per share for the current year.

In related news, EVP Keith H. Williamson sold 5,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, January 2nd. The stock was sold at an average price of $100.11, for a total value of $500,550.00. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available through this link. Also, Director Robert K. Ditmore sold 4,167 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction dated Thursday, October 26th. The shares were sold at an average price of $90.42, for a total value of $376,780.14. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold a total of 27,917 shares of company stock worth $2,777,255 over the last 90 days. 3.00% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

Institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. Vanguard Group Inc. increased its position in shares of Centene by 4.9% during the second quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 16,726,500 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,336,113,000 after buying an additional 774,474 shares during the period. State Street Corp increased its position in shares of Centene by 0.5% during the second quarter. State Street Corp now owns 7,154,348 shares of the company’s stock valued at $571,504,000 after buying an additional 35,040 shares during the period. Ameriprise Financial Inc. increased its position in shares of Centene by 47.8% during the third quarter. Ameriprise Financial Inc. now owns 5,181,047 shares of the company’s stock valued at $502,999,000 after buying an additional 1,676,688 shares during the period. Wells Fargo & Company MN increased its position in shares of Centene by 12.4% during the second quarter. Wells Fargo & Company MN now owns 4,193,466 shares of the company’s stock valued at $334,973,000 after buying an additional 462,936 shares during the period. Finally, Dimensional Fund Advisors LP increased its position in shares of Centene by 6.7% during the third quarter. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP now owns 2,398,997 shares of the company’s stock valued at $232,137,000 after buying an additional 149,743 shares during the period. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 91.84% of the company’s stock.

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About Centene

Centene Corporation is a healthcare company. The Company provides a portfolio of services to government sponsored healthcare programs, focusing on under-insured and uninsured individuals. The Company operates through two segments: Managed Care and Specialty Services. The Company’s Managed Care segment provides health plan coverage to individuals, through government subsidized programs, including Medicaid, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Long Term Care, Foster Care, dual-eligible individuals (Duals) and the Supplemental Security Income Program, also known as the Aged, Blind or Disabled Program (ABD), Medicare, and Health Insurance Marketplace.

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