WellCare Health Plans, Inc.WCG reported fourth-quarter 2016 adjusted operating earnings of $1.03 per share that missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 53 cents by 94%. Earnings per share also grew 61% year over year. For 2016, adjusted earnings per share of $5.96 grew 66% year over year.
The year-over-year improvement in the bottom line (both fourth quarter and full year) was primarily driven by strong performance across all business lines.
Total adjusted premium revenues of approximately $3.43 billion in the fourth quarter, missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate but inched up 0.65% year over year. For 2016, the metric grew 3% from the prior year to $13.9 billion.
Adjusted SG&A expense ratio was 9.2% in the fourth quarter, down 20 basis points (bps) year over year.
Quarterly Segment Update
Medicaid Health Plans:
Adjusted Medicaid Health Plans premium revenues were $2.3 billion, up 89% year over year, primarily due to membership growth
Adjusted Medicaid Health Plans' Medical Benefit Ratio (MBR) was 90.6%, up 100 bps from the last-year quarter.
Medicare Health Plans Segment Results:
Medicare Health Plans premium revenues slightly decreased on a year-over-year basis to $956.0 million. This was primarily due to the year-over-year membership decline as a result of the company's 2016 bid strategy.
The segment's MBR was 85.8%, down 290 bps year over year due to continued operational execution as well as the company's 2016 bid strategy.
Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (PDP) Segment Results
Medicare PDP premium revenues were $194.2 million, up 5% from the fourth quarter of 2015. This was mainly due to the company's 2016 bid positioning.
The Medicare PDP segment's MBR was 58.9%, down 840 bps from the prior-year. This was due to improved operational execution and the company's 2016 bid positioning.
Aon PLC Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise
Net cash from operating activities was $332 million in the fourth quarter of 2016, down 30% year over year. The downside can primarily be attributed to the timing of Medicare-related receipts, though partially offset by improved year-over-year operating performance. For 2016, the metric totaled $748.3 billion, up 5% from the prior year.
As of Dec 31, 2016, unregulated cash and investments were approximately $915.3 million, up 12.3% from year-end 2015.
As of Dec 31, 2016, days claims payable was 50.7 days compared with 47.1 days as of Dec 31, 2015.
Guidance for 2017
The company expects adjusted earnings per diluted share in the range of $6.00-$6.25. Total adjusted premium revenues are expected in the band of $15.12-$15.80 billion. Investment & other income is anticipated to be $18-$21 million. The company expects to incur interest expenses in the range of $58-$60 million. Adjusted SG&A ratio is expected between 7.7% and 7.9%.
Zacks Rank and Performance of Other Insurers
Currently, WellCare Health sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.
Among the other firms in the medical sector that have reported their fourth-quarter earnings so far, the bottom line at Aetna Inc. AET , HCA Holdings Inc. HCA and UnitedHealth Group Inc. UNH beat their respective Zacks Consensus Estimate.
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