Why Centene (CNC) is a Top Value Stock for the Long-Term

For new and old investors, taking full advantage of the stock market and investing with confidence are common goals. Zacks Premium provides lots of different ways to do both.

The popular research service can help you become a smarter, more self-assured investor, giving you access to daily updates of the Zacks Rank and Zacks Industry Rank, the Zacks #1 Rank List, Equity Research reports, and Premium stock screens.

It also includes access to the Zacks Style Scores.

What are the Zacks Style Scores?

The Zacks Style Scores is a unique set of guidelines that rates stocks based on three popular investing types, and were developed as complementary indicators for the Zacks Rank. This combination helps investors choose securities with the highest chances of beating the market over the next 30 days.

Each stock is assigned a rating of A, B, C, D, or F based on their value, growth, and momentum characteristics. Just like in school, an A is better than a B, a B is better than a C, and so on -- that means the better the score, the better chance the stock will outperform.

The Style Scores are broken down into four categories:

Value Score

Value investors love finding good stocks at good prices, especially before the broader market catches on to a stock's true value. Utilizing ratios like P/E, PEG, Price/Sales, Price/Cash Flow, and many other multiples, the Value Style Score identifies the most attractive and most discounted stocks.

Growth Score

Growth investors are more concerned with a stock's future prospects, and the overall financial health and strength of a company. Thus, the Growth Style Score analyzes characteristics like projected and historic earnings, sales, and cash flow to find stocks that will see sustainable growth over time.

Momentum Score

Momentum investors, who live by the saying "the trend is your friend," are most interested in taking advantage of upward or downward trends in a stock's price or earnings outlook. Utilizing one-week price change and the monthly percentage change in earnings estimates, among other factors, the Momentum Style Score can help determine favorable times to buy high-momentum stocks.

VGM Score

If you want a combination of all three Style Scores, then the VGM Score will be your friend. It rates each stock on their combined weighted styles, helping you find the companies with the most attractive value, best growth forecast, and most promising momentum. It's also one of the best indicators to use with the Zacks Rank.

How Style Scores Work with the Zacks Rank

The Zacks Rank is a proprietary stock-rating model that harnesses the power of earnings estimate revisions, or changes to a company's earnings expectations, to help investors build a successful portfolio.

Investors can count on the Zacks Rank's success, with #1 (Strong Buy) stocks producing an unmatched +25.41% average annual return since 1988, more than double the S&P 500's performance. But the model rates a large number of stocks, and there are over 200 companies with a Strong Buy rank, plus another 600 with a #2 (Buy) rank, on any given day.

With more than 800 top-rated stocks to choose from, it can certainly feel overwhelming to pick the ones that are right for you and your investing journey.

That's where the Style Scores come in.

To maximize your returns, you want to buy stocks with the highest probability of success. This means picking stocks with a Zacks Rank #1 or #2 that also have Style Scores of A or B. If you find yourself looking at stocks with a #3 (Hold) rank, make sure they have Scores of A or B as well to ensure as much upside potential as possible.

The direction of a stock's earnings estimate revisions should always be a key factor when choosing which stocks to buy, since the Scores were created to work together with the Zacks Rank.

A stock with a #4 (Sell) or #5 (Strong Sell) rating, for instance, even one with Scores of A and B, will still have a declining earnings forecast, and a greater chance its share price will fall too.

Thus, the more stocks you own with a #1 or #2 Rank and Scores of A or B, the better.

Stock to Watch: Centene (CNC)

Centene Corporation is a well-diversified healthcare company that primarily provides a set of services to the government sponsored healthcare programs. The company serves the under-insured and uninsured individuals through member-focused services. It is also engaged in providing education and outreach programs to inform and assist members in accessing quality, appropriate healthcare services.

CNC is a #3 (Hold) on the Zacks Rank, with a VGM Score of A.

It also boasts a Value Style Score of A thanks to attractive valuation metrics like a forward P/E ratio of 11.48; value investors should take notice.

Five analysts revised their earnings estimate upwards in the last 60 days for fiscal 2024. The Zacks Consensus Estimate has increased $0.05 to $6.80 per share. CNC boasts an average earnings surprise of 10.5%.

With a solid Zacks Rank and top-tier Value and VGM Style Scores, CNC should be on investors' short list.

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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.

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