Centene Corp. reported operating earnings of $12.6 million in the first quarter, down from $21.3 million in the same period of 2005.

Centene, St. Louis, also reported a 37% increase in revenues, from $332 million in first quarter 2005 to $455 million this year.

The company, which offers Medicaid supplemental benefits to individuals and specialty services to health care organizations, saw profits hurt in part by higher pharmacy costs in Indiana and Ohio, according to Michael F. Neidorff, chairman and chief executive.

In another matter, Centene announced an agreement to acquire the managed vision business of OptiCare Health Systems Inc., Rocky Mount, N.C., for $7.5 million.

OptiCare contracts with insurers, employer groups, managed care plans, HMOs and other payers to manage eye health benefits claims in 15 states. It generated revenues last year of about $25 million.