AmSurg shares retreat

The price of AmSurg (AMSG) shares has slipped more than 12% over the past two days in the wake of the departure of a top operations executive and the release of a cautious analyst report.

After the close of trading Tuesday, when AmSurg shares had settled at $23.29, the company announced Dennis Zamojski, senior vice president of operations, had departed. AmSurg shares fell the next day to $22.08 on volume more than five times their daily average, and Stephens analyst Thad Waugh downgraded the stock from “overweight” to “equal-weight.” By Thursday afternoon, the shares of the surgery center company had dropped as low as $20.04, off 9%, again on very heavy volume. Their 52-week range is $19.11-$26.70.

Waugh trimmed Stephens’ 2004 pro forma earnings estimate from $1.17 to $1.14 a share, reflecting the recent sale of an ophthalmology surgery center back to a group of partner physicians. Similarly, as a result of the sale, AmSurg earlier this month lowered its guidance to $1.11-$1.14 a share from $1.16-$1.19.

AmSurg operated 117 surgery centers as of the end of June; 68 perform gastrointestinal endoscopy procedures, 39 perform ophthalmology surgery procedures, five centers perform orthopedic procedures and five centers perform procedures in more than one specialty.