Downgraded: Long Beach-based Molina Healthcare lost its ‘buy’ rating.

Downgraded: Long Beach-based Molina Healthcare lost its ‘buy’ rating.

Long Beach-based Molina Healthcare Inc. announced that its board has authorized a stock repurchase program for up to $500 million worth of the company's outstanding common shares over the next two years.

The buyback plan, which was revealed Dec. 13, will be funded by the company’s existing cash on hand. Molina’s management will determine the timing and amount of the share repurchases based on market conditions and stock price, among other factors.

Chief Financial Officer Thomas Tran said a share repurchase program was a prudent choice for Molina's capital deployment program. “However,” he added, “our highest priority for the deployment of capital will continue to relate to growth, including both expansion into new states such as Kentucky and the pursuit of attractive mergers and acquisitions opportunities.”

Molina specializes in providing health insurance primarily to low-income families and individuals under managed care programs, especially state-run insurance programs that are part of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. It also offers health plans under the federal Medicare and Medicaid programs.

The company serves roughly 3.4 million members in a dozen states, including California, Florida, Michigan, New Mexico, Texas and Utah.

Molina has come under pressure recently after a string of major health care contract losses, including the majority of its Texas market. Those losses contributed to a sharp decline in Molina’s share price during the third quarter; since then, the share price has rebounded a bit.

Last year, Molina reported $18.8 billion in revenue.

Healthcare/biomed, energy, engineering/construction and infrastructure reporter Howard Fine can be reached at hfine@labusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @howardafine.

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