Missouri Minute: SSM’s joint drug nonprofit signs manufacturer; Centene surges in Q2

Good morning, MBA readers,

St. Louis health care companies trending in different directions top today’s headlines. One one hand, Centene’s earnings and revenue surged past analyst expectations. On the other, Essence Group Holdings faces intense scrutiny over its billing practices. Read on for these and the day’s other business stories — including the finale of our Pitchin’ podcast.

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From our newsroom

Pitchin’ podcast finale features checks cashed, lessons learned
Since embarking on a months-long journey with three student entrepreneurs preparing for a high-stakes pitch competition, the Pitchin’ podcast has been building toward this. The final episode of the podcast looks at how the three student entrepreneurs fared on Pitch Day, what they took from the process and where their startups will go from here.

Q&A: Pepper IoT’s Scott Ford on secure smart tech, user growth, a big exit
From a cybersecurity and privacy perspective, the marketplace for connected devices is “a complete mess,” according to Scott Ford. The CEO of Kansas City-based smart technology startup Pepper IoT recently sat down to share his thoughts on his company and its place in a fast-growing industry.

Stay alert

St. Louis insurer faces Medicare billing scrutiny
Essence Group Holdings, which is valued at over $1.6 billion, faces a whistleblower lawsuit and a federal audit over claims that the company and its affiliates exaggerated patient conditions to collect more payments from Medicare. (Kaiser Health News)

SSM’s joint drug nonprofit selects manufacturer
SSM Health and six other hospital systems have signed a five-year deal with Civica Rx, which will produce 14 generic injectable medications. (St. Louis Business Journal)

Clayton-based headhunting firm acquired
Grant Cooper, a health care executive search firm, has been acquired by Philadelphia’s Diversified Search for an undisclosed sum, the companies announced Tuesday. Grant Cooper was founded in 1957. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Developer plans new medical facility in KC suburb
SMG Investments, which is related to Sunflower Medical Group PA, plans to build a two-story, 30,000-square-foot medical facility in Roeland Park, Kansas. The city sold the 2.7-acre lot to SMG for $1.2 million earlier this month. (Kansas City Business Journal)

Missouri man awarded $2 million in I-35 trailer injury
A jury awarded $2 million to a man injured by a tractor-trailer that backed up on Interstate 35 four years ago, according to court documents released this week. (Kansas City Star)

Say that again

“But at the end of the day, nobody needs to be an expert when you start.”

That’s Michael Wilson, director of research and development at United American Hemp. The Olathe, Kansas-based hemp startup is getting close to harvesting its first crop, Startland News reports. Neither Wilson nor his co-founder, James DeWitt, comes from an agricultural background. Wilson was the founder and CEO of luxury watchmaker NIALL, and DeWitt was the chief compliance officer at Creative Planning, a wealth management firm. Wilson said he has found a surprising amount of crossover between precision manufacturing and hemp cultivation in a lab.

Go figure

That’s how much Centene’s earnings jumped in the second quarter from a year earlier, the company reported Tuesday. The St. Louis-based health care plan provider posted $561 million in adjusted net earnings, or $1.34 a share, in the second quarter. That was up from $360 million, or 90 cents a share. Overall revenue surged 29.5% to roughly $18.4 billion, beating revenue expectations of $18 billion, The Street reports.

It’s been a pleasure doing business with you this morning.


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