5 Reasons to Add WellCare Health Plans to Your Portfolio

Estimates for WellCare Health Plans, Inc . WCG have been revised upward over the past seven days, reflecting analysts' confidence in the stock post solid first-quarter earnings results. The stock has seen the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2018 and 2019 earnings being raised 0.5% and 0.8% to $10.16 and $12.02, respectively.

WellCare offers government-sponsored managed care services. Shares of this Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) securities exchange have gained 8.9% year to date, outperforming the industry 's growth of 6.2%.

Let's focus on the factors that make WellCare an attractive stock to hold on to for greater returns.

Raised Guidance : Backed by strong first-quarter 2018 results, the company has lifted its 2018 earnings outlook. It expects adjusted earnings per share in the band of $10-$10.30, up from the previously guided range of $9.55-$9.85 to account for improvement in medical benefit ratios across all its segments.

Improving Top Line : The last few years saw WellCare's top-line rise, witnessing a five-year CAGR of 18% on the back of its organic and inorganic growth strategies. Apart from premium growth, accretive acquisitions have helped WellCare Health grow its market share by expanding its presence across geographies and different industries. For 2018, total adjusted premium revenues are expected in the bracket of $17.925-$18.425 billion, up 7% from 2017.

Financial Strength : WellCare enjoys commendable liquidity, banking on its robust cash position. Its cash flow from operating activities has been consistently registering a remarkable four-year CAGR of 55.6%. This high level of financial liquidity is likely to support the company's inorganic growth initiatives, which have been the main revenue driver to date.

Growth Projections : The Zacks Consensus Estimate for current-year earnings per share is pegged at $10.16, representing a year-over-year increase of 19.3% on 9.2% higher revenues of $18.6 billion.

For 2019, the consensus mark for earnings per share is pegged at $12.02 on $20.16 billion revenues, thus depicting a respective 18.3% and 8.6% year-over-year rise.

WellCare has an expected long-term earnings per share growth rate of 14.1%, outperforming the industry's average of 13.2%.

VGM Score : WellCare carries a favorable VGM Score of A. Here V stands for Value, G for Growth and M for Momentum with the score being a weighted combination of all three factors. Backtested results prove that stocks with an impressive VGM Score of A or B coupled with a bullish Zacks Rank offer the best investment bets.

Positive Earnings Surprise History : The company boasts an encouraging earnings surprise history, having exceeded the Zacks Consensus Estimate in each of the trailing 13 quarters with an average beat of 14%. This trend of consecutive estimate beats denotes the company's operational excellence.

Other Stocks to Consider

Some other top-ranked stocks from the HMO industry are Anthem, Inc. ANTM , Humana Inc. HUM and Triple-S Management Corporation GTS , each carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank stocks here .

Anthem operates as a health benefits company in the United States. It pulled off an average four-quarter positive surprise of 7.22%.

Humana operates as a health and well-being company in the United States. It delivered an average four-quarter beat of 6.16%.

Triple-S Management provides a portfolio of managed care and related products in the commercial, Medicare and Medicaid markets in Puerto Rico, the United States. It came up with an average four-quarter beat of 260.65%.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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