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WellCare projects its earnings for 2010 to be below expectations

WellCare Health Plans Inc. released earnings projections for 2010 today that fell well below analysts' expectations. Executives of the Tampa health insurer blamed a federally imposed marketing ban, lifted late last year, and the decision to discontinue Medicare Advantage fee-for-service health plans. "From a financial perspective, 2010 will be a challenging year," CEO Alec Cunningham said in a conference call with analysts.

WellCare reported a profit of $39.9 million, or 95 cents per share, for 2009. That compared to a loss of $36.8 million, or 89 cents per share, for 2008. At the end of last year, membership in its plans dropped 8 percent to 2.3 million from a year earlier.

The company projected earnings per share of $1.90 to $2.15 for 2010. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected an average of $2.56. WellCare's share price fell $4.21 to close at $27.91, or down 13 percent.

WellCare projects its earnings for 2010 to be below expectations 02/18/10 [Last modified: Thursday, February 18, 2010 6:19pm]
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