Centene raises profit forecast betting on higher Medicaid premiums

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June 17 (Reuters) - Health insurer Centene Corp (CNC.N) raised its forecast for full-year adjusted profit on Friday, betting on higher premiums from its government-backed Medicaid health insurance plans.

The company has performed well on the federal Obamacare marketplace - where it offers insurance plans - so far in the second quarter, it said in prepared remarks for its investor day.

It now expects a profit of $5.55 to $5.70 per share for the full year, compared with its earlier forecast of between $5.40 and $5.55 per share.

The company said its board has decided to increase its existing share buyback program by $3 billion and launch a $1 billion debt repurchase program, as the insurer prepares for the upcoming divestitures of two of its pharmacy businesses.

Centene said last month it would sell the units for about $2.8 billion as part of its strategy to exit the pharmacy benefit management space. read more

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Reporting by Mrinalika Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni

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