Health insurer Centene Corp. said Thursday it expects profit to remain flat in 2010, citing startup costs for a new Mississippi contract, along with rate changes and other expenses.
The outlook does not account for potential changes from health care reform, the company said.
In October, the company forecast 2009 profit between $1.91 and $1.97 per share, compared with analysts' average estimate of $1.92 per share, according to a Thomson Reuters poll. But analysts have been expecting higher profit for 2010 of $2.12 per share, on average.
Centene said it plans on providing more detailed 2010 financial guidance on Jan. 8.
Shares rose 21 cents to close at $19.19.