A young Boston hedge fund late last year amassed a sizable stake in Healthways, the wellness services provider that recently said it expects to post a big loss this quarter.
North Tide Capital, a firm that was launched in late 2011 by Millennium Management alumnus Conan Laughlin, this week said it owns 2.3 million shares of Healthways, 6.8 percent of the company's outstanding stock. Those holdings all have been amassed since Sept. 30. North Tide focuses on health care names and managed about $270 million at the end of 2012. At that time, it also held positions in local hospital sector leaders HCA Holdings and Community Health Systems.
The buying from North Tide made it the seventh investor to hold at least 5 percent of Healthways, based on the latest filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The largest Healthways shareholder is FMR, the parent of Fidelity Investments, which owned almost 12 percent of the company at year's end, down from more than 15 percent the year before. Combined, the top seven holders of Healthways now control about half of the company's shares.
Healthways CEO Ben Leedle said last week that his team is on track to ramp up profits in the second half of this year, after it has wrapped up the big investments it needs to make to launch contracts signed since last summer. Leedle guided the company's profits to a range of 25 cents to 35 cents, which is also the range among analysts following the company.
But looking ahead to 2014, there isn't much consensus as to how Healthways' bottom line will grow: The seven analysts tracking Healthways have estimates ranging from 42 cents to $1.10. It appears Laughlin is betting the company's actual profits will be much closer to the higher number.
At about 12:50 p.m. on Friday, shares of Healthways (Ticker: HWAY) were changing hands at $11.43, up almost 1 percent on the day. Over the past three months, they have climbed 20 percent.