Trump’s Obamacare Threat May Limit Profits at Health Insurer

  • Shares fall after close; company meets with investors Friday
  • Health company predicts adjusted 2017 EPS of $4.40 to $4.85

Donald Trump’s promises to repeal Obamacare have claimed another victim -- health insurer Centene Corp.’s 2017 profit outlook.

The company said in a regulatory filing Thursday that Trump’s victory could limit margins in its business selling Obamacare plans, cutting its 2017 profit projections by about 20 cents. The insurer forecast adjusted earnings of $4.40 to $4.85 a share for 2017, compared with the $4.83 average of analysts’ estimates.

Shares of Centene fell 1.3 percent to $56.50 at 4:42 p.m. in New York.

“The company’s 2017 guidance reflects lower margins on the Health Insurance Marketplace business as a result of the uncertainty created by the outcome of the presidential election,” Centene said in the filing. Other hospital and insurer stocks fell after Trump’s election last month.

Centene Chief Executive Officer Michael Neidorff said the company hasn’t seen any early signs of trouble in its exchange business, and enrollment is proceeding as he expected it would. The company came out with the lower guidance out of “an abundance of conservatism,” he said by phone.

“We have full confidence in the business,” he said. “It’s coming in the way I would expect it to.”

Centene is scheduled to hold an investor meeting Friday and give more details on its outlook. Trump campaigned on a promise of repealing and replacing Obamacare. With the sign-up season for 2017 plans currently under way, it’s possible that some people may decide not to buy Affordable Care Act plans because of Trump’s rhetoric.

Centene, which specializes in Medicaid coverage, is one of the few for-profit insurers that’s been turning a profit from sales of ACA plans. Rivals like UnitedHealth Group Inc. and Aetna Inc. have been retreating from the health law’s markets after posting losses.

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