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.