Investors in managed-care provider WellCare Health Plans
WellCare was out of the blocks quickly as first-quarter net income increased by 58% to $16.8 million vs. $10.6 million for the year-ago quarter. Revenues increased by 74%, and total membership doubled from the first quarter in 2005. President and Chief Executive Todd S. Farha could not have been happier, saying, "We continue to achieve industry-leading growth through new product and geographic expansions."
That continued in the second quarter, when net income grew 57% and revenues grew 88%. To try to maintain the strong growth in membership, WellCare launched new Medicaid health plans in Georgia in the quarter. The company's was the only plan selected to provide Medicaid services statewide there.
WellCare showed no signs of a letup in the third quarter. Revenues increased by 104% to $1 billion and total membership grew to 2.2 million, representing 151% growth year over year. Third-quarter net income grew 166% year over year, and the prescription drug program that WellCare launched nationwide at the beginning of the year continued to grow. Farha said, "We doubled the size of the company over the past year and retained our focus on execution and operational discipline."
The company, which has provided guidance of revenues of $1.1 billion and net income of $53.6 million to $55.6 million, will likely announce its fourth-quarter results in February. Overall, it has been a year to remember. Through multiple growth initiatives, WellCare was able to weather not being selected to provide managed-care benefits to Indiana Medicaid recipients in 2007. The prescription drug program grew to 911,000 members by the end of the third quarter, and total membership numbers grew at a torrid pace throughout the year. The stock's performance has been better than anybody could ask for, rising steadily from $40 12 months ago to its current price near $70.
So what does the future hold for this mid cap? Our Motley Fool CAPS community members have put in their two cents. Here's how the overall sentiment stacks up:
You can see that the overwhelming majority of CAPS players think that 2007 will be another big year for WellCare, which has a four-star rating. In fact, player Britintheusa writes: "A mid-cap that has a proven growth record that is expanding its membership to leverage its efficient operational system."
I am bullish on WellCare, too. It is a relatively young company, having gone public in mid-2004, and has a lot of room for growth. In addition to its prescription drug program, the company plans to begin offering private fee-for-service plans to Medicare beneficiaries on Jan. 1. In its initial guidance for 2007, it's forecasting net income of $166 million to $171 million on $4.8 billion in revenues. Given WellCare's propensity for exceeding its own estimates, I would not be surprised to see these numbers topped also.
Check out the other companies featured in "The Motley Fool's 2006 in Review and 2007 Preview" special.
Interested in what's happening at WellCare or in the health-care industry in general?Motley Fool Stock Advisorhas also recommended Healthways, Coventry Health Care, and Aflac. See why Stock Advisor beats the market by 39.22%.
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