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Centene & Unit Inks New Deal to Expand Foothold in Ferguson

Centene Corporation CNC and its Missouri subsidiary, Home State Health, recently inked a deal with Schnuck Markets, Inc. and the Betty Jean Kerr People's Health Centers. The partnership aims at opening a full-service health center within the Schnucks supermarket in Ferguson, MO.

Per the deal, Centene would initially invest more than $1.3 million for the health center, scheduled to open in Nov 2017. Schnuck Markets would donate the space in its Ferguson store for the primary care and urgent care divisions meant for adults and children over the age of three.

In addition, Centene would take care of the health center's operations whereas medical services would be provided by the clinical staff from People's Health. The facility is expected to have the capacity of serving over 8,000 people annually. The clinic would provide services like low acuity primary care and urgent care for adults and children above the age of three, immunization services, laboratories and dental services through mobile unit.

Apart from organic growth, Centene has also been deploying capital in numerous acquisitions, mergers as well as alliances. The recent acquisition of Health Net has boosted the company’s growth, expansion and asset base.

Shareholders have favorably viewed the company’s inorganic initiatives, which is evident from its share price movement. Year to date, the stock has rallied 50%, outperforming the Zacks categorized Medical-Health Maintenance Organization industry’s gain of 21%.

Centene has long been focused on rebuilding the Ferguson community.  In 2016, it opened a service center in Ferguson with an investment of $30 million. The facility includes a state-of-the-art bistro, fitness center, and on-site early childhood development center, as well as a community center available to the Ferguson community. Previously, Centene was a partner of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater St. Louis that intended to launch Ferguson's first club. Moreover, Centene also contributed to the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis in order to build a job training center in West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson.

Management of Schnuck Markets is optimistic that the alliance would further boost the companies’ joint commitment to nourish people's lives by focusing on health and wellness programs in the communities under their operation.

Management of People's Health Centers has also expressed excitement to work with Centene, Home State Health and Schnucks.  People's Health Centers expects to bring valuable primary health care resources to the Ferguson community.

Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider

Centene has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Some better-ranked stocks in the same space include Acadia Healthcare Company, Inc. ACHC, Aetna , Inc AET and UnitedHealth Group, Inc UNH. Aetna sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), while the other two stocks hold a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Acadia Healthcare posted positive surprises in three of the last four quarters with an average beat of 1.74%.

Aetna’s earnings beat expectations in each of the last four quarters with an average beat of 8.61%.

UnitedHealth also posted positive surprises in each of the last four quarters with an average beat of 4.59%.

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