Earnings wrap: Healthways, Iasis

Wellness company guides Q1 below Street, sees big second half; hospital chain's numbers flat despite admissions gains

Wellness services provider Healthways posted a small fourth-quarter profit, reversing a massive year-ago loss due to the end of its contract with Cigna. Revenues slipped 3 percent to $175 million.

Healthways’ bottom line came in at $604,000 and included a $1.7 million charge from layoffs. Per diluted share, the profit was 2 cents. The company’s international operations contributed 5 cents per share while the domestic business broke even and the restructuring charge accounted for 3 cents of losses.

President and CEO Ben Leedle said the quarter showed the Franklin-based company is “on track strategically, tactically and financially” and working toward steady and profitable growth. Looking ahead, Leedle reiterated his comments from a few months ago that ramp-up spending associated with new contract signings are going to suppress profits in early 2013, but that they should “ramp sharply” later in the year. For the first quarter, Leedle and his team are forecasting a loss of 15 cents per share, well below the break-even performance analysts had been looking for.

“We have reached a critical mass of business that we expect will drive a return to revenue growth for 2013 and beyond,” Leedle said. “Further, based on continuing business development momentum with health systems, health plans and employers, including government entities, we are confident our contracting success will continue in 2013.”

Heading into the last hour of trading Thursday, shares of HWAY (Ticker: HWAY) were down 1.4 percent to $10.45. They’ve oscillated in a $10-11 range since Thanksgiving.

Iasis Healthcare posted a profit of $4.1 million in the first quarter of its 2013 fiscal year, an increase of 13 percent from a year ago. The increase was due almost entirely to a small gain from discontinued operations; the company’s continuing business produced a profit that was essentially flat at about $3.6 million.

Revenues at Franklin-based Iasis climbed 3 percent to $641 million, with growth in the acute-care operations offsetting a drop in insurance premium revenues. Margins were hurt by a $22 million year-over-year increase — which equates to 10 percent — in salaries and benefits. Adjusted admissions rose 3 percent while outpatient operations’ share of revenues rose 2 points to 42.7 percent.