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Centene (CNC) Q1 Earnings: Surprise in Store for Stock?

Centene Corp. CNC is scheduled to report first-quarter 2016 results before the opening bell on Apr 26. In the last quarter, this company delivered an 11.76% positive earnings surprise. Let’s see how things are shaping up for this announcement.

Factors Influencing this Past Quarter

Centene’s diversified product portfolio is likely to have benefitted the to-be-reported quarter’s results. Solid membership should drive premiums and service revenues higher and in turn aid margin expansion. Solid membership came on the back of expansion into states.

Medical costs ratio is likely to remain stable.

Exchange business is expected to remain favorable in the quarter.

However, general and administrative costs ratio is expected to have increased. Interest expense may have increased owing to a higher debt level. Investment income is expected to remain soft.

Management estimates adjusted earnings per share between $4.05 and $4.40 in 2016 of which it expects about 45% in the first half of the year. But the company also estimated first-quarter earnings to be lower than the second quarter owing to business seasonality, reflecting only a month’s impact from Health Net acquisitions and an extra day due to the leap year.

With respect to the surprise trend, Centene Corp surpassed expectations in each of the last four quarters, with an average beat of 8.40%.

The company’s share price has been on an uptrend over the last few days. We wait to see how the stock reacts to the quarter’s results.

Earnings Whispers

Our proven model does not conclusively show that Centene Corp will beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate in the first quarter. That is because a stock needs to have both a positive Earnings ESP and a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or at least 2 (Buy) or 3 (Hold) for this to happen. But this is not the case here as elaborated below.

Zacks ESP: Centene Corp's Most Accurate estimate is pegged at 71 cents per share, which is below the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 74 cents. The Earnings ESP is thus -4.05%.

Zacks Rank: Centene has a Zacks Rank #3, which increases the predictive power of ESP. However, a negative ESP makes surprise prediction difficult.

The Sell-rated stocks (Zacks Rank #4 or 5) should never be considered going into an earnings announcement.

Stocks to Consider

Here are some companies that you may want to consider as these have the right combination of elements to post an earnings beat this quarter:  

AbbVie Inc. ABBV has an Earnings ESP of +1.77% and a Zacks Rank #3. The company is scheduled to release first-quarter earnings results on Apr 28.

Amgen Inc. AMGN has an Earnings ESP of +3.52% and a Zacks Rank #3. The company is expected to report first-quarter earnings results on Apr 28.

Humana Inc. HUM has an Earnings ESP of +0.55% and a Zacks Rank #3. The company is set to report first-quarter earnings results on May 4.

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AMGEN INC (AMGN): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
HUMANA INC NEW (HUM): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
CENTENE CORP (CNC): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
ABBVIE INC (ABBV): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
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