Imperial Capital analyst Jake Hindelong has started covering shares of LifePoint Hospitals with a price target of $53 — almost 30 percent higher than its current price — and has slapped an 'outperform' rating on the stock. His core argument: The Brentwood-based company is a good candidate for a private-equity buyout based on its relatively low debt levels and steady growth.
Analysts at Barclays Capital have a slightly different view. On Thursday, they also launched coverage of Middle Tennessee's hospital chains and their peers. They say investors should underweight LifePoint, shares of which they see going to $44 — just 5 percent above where the stock ended Thursday's session. On the other hand, the Barclays researchers rate industry leader HCA Holdings and Vanguard Health Systems at 'outperform' and expect both to climb at least 25 percent from their current levels. But they didn't look as kindly on Community Health Systems, which got an equalweight and $32 price target vs. its Thursday close of $28 and change.