Centene posts wider-than-expected 2nd-quarter loss

Tue Jul 24, 2012 6:44am EDT

(Reuters) - Health insurer Centene Corp (CNC.N) posted a wider-than-expected quarterly loss on rising costs for its Texas and Kentucky health plans.

The company maintained its 2012 earnings view given in June, when it slashed its forecast to $1.45-$1.65 per share from $2.64-$2.84 a share in June.

Centene posted a net loss of $35.0 million, or 68 cents per share, in the second quarter compared with a profit of $28.4 million, or 64 cents per share, a year earlier.

The insurer had said in June that it would post a loss in the second quarter on rising costs in its Texas and Kentucky health plans and its Celtic business, but expects to return to profitability in the third quarter.

Premium and service revenue rose 61 percent to $2.1 billion.

Excluding items, the company posted a loss of 16 cents per share, compared to analysts' estimate of a loss of 11 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Centene, which provides Medicaid and Medicaid-related health plan coverage to individuals through government-subsidized programs, is likely to benefit from the Affordable Care Act. The law aims to extend coverage to more than 30 million uninsured Americans.

The St Louis, Missouri-based company's shares, which have risen about 4 percent since it cut its outlook in June, closed at $34.64 on Monday on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Prateek Kumar in Bangalore; Editing by Rodney Joyce)

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