Earnings wrap: HealthStream, First Acceptance

Health education company expanding into post-acute space; auto insurer barely in the black

Health education services provider HealthStream posted fourth-quarter profits of $1.8 million, up slightly from a year ago, as its spending on mergers and acquisitions took a bite out of the bottom line. Per diluted share, earnings came in at 7 cents, the same as in late 2011.

Revenues at Nashville-based HealthStream jumped 27 percent from a year ago to $27.8 million, helped by the acquisitions of Decision Critical and Sy.Med as well as an increase in contracts for its other talent management products. Operating income rose 12 percent to $3.3 million but margins fell to 12.0 percent during the quarter from 13.6 percent.

CEO Bobby Frist and his team have launched a push to expand their services into the post-acute space, primarily long-term care facilities and home health care agencies. Those markets have a workforce of about 3 million people, the company said.

Auto insurer First Acceptance posted a small fourth-quarter profit on the back of 15 percent growth in premiums. A year ago, the Green Hills-based company lost $25 million after it was forced to write down goodwill.

The company’s combined ratio, which measures underwriting costs and losses as a percent of premiums earned, finished the last three months of 2012 at 99.8 percent, down a tick from the third quarter. Policies in force grew almost 3 percent year over year to 146,000.