Cantor thumbs-down dents LifePoint

Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Joe France has come out swinging against LifePoint Hospitals, downgrading the Brentwood-based hospital operator to 'hold' from 'buy' and slashing his price target to $35 from $46. The potential is there to improve results, he says, but investors haven't had a lot to show for it.

We like its strategy, and the stock is not expensive — it sells at a discount to the group — but we do not believe that LifePoint's earnings leverage is better than the group at this time.

LifePoint shares (Ticker: LPNT) struggled mightily in early trading, falling more than 5 percent at one point, but they have caught a bit of a bid since then. At about 12:30 p.m., they were changing hands down 3 percent at $36.24.