Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Good news doesn't get much better than this. When WellCare Health Plans (NYSE: WCG) reported earnings this morning, it quite simply crushed analyst estimates. Per-share profits of $0.50 were more than triple analysts' estimated $0.16 for the quarter and a 233% improvement over last year's $0.15 earnings.

So what: And that was only the start of the good news. Based on trends in increased membership and lower payouts for medical procedures, WellCare increased its earnings guidance for the year by all 34 cents' worth of the first quarter's beat -- and then it tossed in another $0.56 in guidance-uppage for good measure.

Now what: All told, WellCare now expects to earn at least $3.35 per share this year, and perhaps as much as $3.65. At the midpoint of that guidance, we're looking now at a stock priced at 13.6 times this year's probable earnings. That's not too far ahead of the 10.8% growth rate that Wall Street has it pegged for, but it's not an obvious bargain either, though.

My guess: The valuation is the only reason the stock didn't leap higher than today's 13% jump. The news really was that good. It's just a shame that the stock price isn't.

Want to learn more about WellCare Health Plans? Add it to your watchlist.

Fool contributor Rich Smith owns no shares of, nor is he short, any company named above.  

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