Stock Alert: Guardant Health Up 7%

Two more people test positive for coronavirus in UK

Two further patients in England have tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total number of UK cases to 15, the Department of Health said.

The virus was passed on in Italy and Tenerife and the patients have been transferred to the Royal Liverpool Hospital and the Royal Free Hospital in London for specialist treatment.

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Stock Alert: Centene Corp. (CNC)

Shares of Centene Corp. (CNC) are trading close to a new 52-week high of $68.64, reached on Jan 24 – after the company closed its $17.3 billion acquisition of WellCare Health Plans Inc. (WCG).

The merger vaults Centene from a small-player status to one of the largest publicly-traded managed care providers in the nation, to cater to more than 24 million members across all 50 states, including 12.3 million Medicaid members.

In a presentation, the company also boosted its financial expectations from the closed merger and now sees accretion of no less than breakeven in year 1 and mid-to-high single digits in year 2. Earlier, the company expected the transaction to be slightly dilutive to adjusted eps in year 1 and mid-single digits accretion in year 2.

Early Feb, the company reported inline adj. eps of 73 cents, on a nearly 14% increase in revenues to $18.86 billion.

At its Wednesday closing price of $67.37, CNC trades 14X its forward FY20 estimates.

Grafton Group FY19 Pre-tax Profit Declines – Quick Facts

Grafton Group plc (GFTU.L, GROUF), a distributor of building materials, reported Thursday that its fiscal 2019 profit before tax declined to 172.64 million pounds from a restated 174.40 million pounds last year. Earnings per share decreased to 50.0 pence from 63.1 pence a year ago.

Adjusted profit before tax was 179.6 million pounds, compared to restated 181.4 million pounds a year ago. Adjusted earnings per share from continuing operations were 62.6 pence, compared to prior year’s 63.5 pence.

Revenue from continuing operations increased 3 percent to 2.67 billion pounds from 2.60 billion pounds last year. Revenue increased 2.9 percent in constant currency.

The company said that a second interim dividend of 12.5 pence per share will be paid to give total dividends for the year of 19.0 pence per share, representing an increase of 5.6 percent on dividends of 18.0 pence per share paid for 2018.

Looking ahead, Grafton Group said that overall expectations are positive for its portfolio of strong cash generative businesses and it is confident of continued progress in 2020.

Law Debenture Posts FY Profit

Law Debenture Corp Plc. (LWDB.L) reported that its profit for the year ended 31 December 2019 was 129.94 million pounds, compared to a net loss of 59.79 million in the prior year. Return per ordinary share was 109.94 pence, compared to a loss of 50.59 pence in the prior year.

Profit before taxation was 131.36 million pounds compared to a loss of 58.48 million pounds in the prior year.

Total income grew to 66.74 million pounds from 57.11 million pounds in the previous year.

The company has proposed to pay a final dividend of 19.4 pence per share, an increase of 50% on the 2018 final dividend of 12.9 pence per share. The dividend will be paid on 16 April 2020 to holders on the register on the record date of 13 March 2020.

Reckitt Benckiser swings to net loss for 2019

Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC said Thursday that it swung to net loss for 2019, hurt by discontinuing operations and legal issues, and despite increasing like-for-like sales.

The consumer-goods company–which houses Dettol, Harpic and Durex among its brands–posted a net loss for the year of 3.68 billion pounds ($4.76 billion) compared with a profit of GBP2.16 billion a year earlier. Reckitt also booked a pretax loss of GBP2.11 billion, from a GBP2.72 billion profit in 2018.

Revenue for the year rose 2% year-on-year to GBP12.85 billion, while on a like-for-like basis sales were up 0.8%. This compares with a guidance of 0%-2% growth given last October.

Adjusted operating profit–one of the company’s preferred metrics which strips out exceptional and other one-off items–was largely stable, rising slightly to GBP3.37 billion from GBP3.36 billion.

Reckitt said that results suffered from a $1.40 billion settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice related to its Indivior fraud case, as well as a GBP898 million expense coming from discontinuing operations.

The board declared a final dividend of 101.6 pence a share taking the total payout to 174.6 pence for the year, up from 170.7 pence in 2018.

"We ended 2019 broadly in line with our expectations for net revenue growth and adjusted operating profit from October," Chief Executive Laxman Narasimhan said.

Stock Alert: Guardant Health Up 7%

Shares of Guardant Health, Inc. (GH), a precision oncology company, that provides blood tests, data sets, and analytics, climbed $5.71 or 7.53% on Wednesday after reporting narrower than estimated loss in the fourth quarter.

Guardant Health reported loss of $25.2 million or $0.27 in the fourth quarter compared with $25.1 million or $0.30 per share loss for the corresponding period last year. 7 analysts on average polled by Thomson Reuters were expecting loss of $0.31 per share.

Revenue increased 91% year-on-year to $62.9 million, helped mainly by 104% increase in precision oncology revenue on higher testing volume.

For the full-year, the company expects revenue to be in the range of $275.0 million to $285.0 million

Looking forward, Derek Bertocci, Chief Financial Officer said, “In 2020, we expect contributions from our biopharma business to be lighter in the first quarter. … we expect revenue to benefit – to begin to benefit from the expanded Medicare LCD in the second quarter of 2020 with more full benefit in the third quarter and beyond.”

The stock closed Wednesday’s trade at $81.50 and has traded in the range of $54- $112.22. From October last year, the shares have been upticking with nearly 40% growth in almost 5 months.