December 18, 2017 / 12:45 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-WellCare Health forecasts FY 2018 adj. profit below estimates

(Adds details on interest expense, medical benefits ratio)

Dec 18 (Reuters) - Insurer WellCare Health Plans Inc on Monday forecast its full-year 2018 adjusted profit below analysts’ estimates, largely due to higher interest expenses.

The company said it expects full-year 2018 adjusted earnings of $8.40-$8.65 per share, missing analysts’ average estimate of $8.67 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The health insurer also forecast interest expenses of $69 million-$72 million, compared with its full-year 2017 forecast of $68 million-$70 million.

Revenue is expected to increase to $18.65 billion, primarily due to organic growth in WellCare Health’s Medicaid and Medicare health plans units and acquisition of Universal American Corp. Analysts’ were expecting revenue of $18.90 billion.

WellCare estimates its medical benefits ratio - a key measure of costs - for Medicaid to decrease due to an improved pharmacy cost structure and newer Medicaid businesses in Arizona, Missouri and Nebraska. (Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Martina D’Couto)

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