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What: Shares of WellCare Health Plans (NYSE:WCG) were getting an A-OK from investors today, climbing as much as 10% after reporting first-quarter earnings this morning.
So what: The health insurance provider said adjusted per-share profit jumped from $0.63 to $1.13, blowing earnings estimates of $0.04 per share out of the water. Those low estimates were due to projections earlier in the year from WellCare of a decline in profits due to fees relating to Obamacare. However, a number of factors drove the improvement in the quarter, including a benefit from a gain resulting from its acquisition of Windsor Health Group. Operating profits grew briskly as well, improving 63% as CEO Dave Gallitano attributed the jump to the "strong and growth performance of our Medicaid health plans."
Now what: Looking ahead, WellCare lifted its full-year guidance because of the Windsor-related gain, "Medicaid results and outlook, greater traction in medical cost management initiatives, and productivity improvements." Management now expects full-year earnings of $4.40 to $4.75, up from a previous range of $3.75 to $4.05, and well ahead of analyst estimates at $3.97. The company also lifted its premium revenue guidance to $12-$12.1 billion, ahead of expectations, as premiums grew 32% in the first quarter. With growth like that, I wouldn't be surprised to see WellCare shares continue to move higher.
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