Dirk Wales, chief medical officer of Medicare insurer HealthSpring, last week sold more than $650,000 worth of stock in the Franklin-based company. It's not clear what his cost basis was for those shares, but you can bet he booked a solid profit: HealthSpring (Ticker: HS) is up more than 60 percent so far this year and has more than doubled since Wales was named to his current post in early 2008.
Color Whit Mayo is among those impressed by the gathering momentum at LifePoint Hospitals. The Robert W. Baird analyst sees "comparisons [easing] materially over the course of 2011 as LPNT will lap significant IT and employment costs to the P&L" and says the Street is missing the longer-term story with the Brentwood-based company. He has raised his 2011 earnings estimates by 3 percent to $3.15 and by 4 percent to $3.31 for 2012. LifePoint shares (Ticker: LPNT) are up about 14 percent in 2011.
Another local health care player getting a higher target is Medicare Advantage insurer HealthSpring. Oppenheimer analyst Michael Wiederhorn has hiked his target for the Franklin-based insurer (Ticker: HS) to $43 from $39. Less than three months ago, Wiederhorn was lifting his target out of the $20s, but HealthSpring has rocketed up more than 60 percent so far this year.
Brentwood-based Cross Country Education has secured a contract to market its live and audio seminars to up to 64,000 employees of insurance giant Cigna. Cross Country President Greg Greene and his team have trained more than 1.5 million health care providers since 1995.
Fred Lowrance at Avondale Partners says there's a good chance Gaylord Entertainment will lift its earnings guidance when it reports first-quarter profits next week. The hotel sector as a whole is trending nicely upward, he wrote to clients this week, and operators are beginning to regain pricing power. Combine that with what is likely to be a good quarter from Gaylord Opryland as well as "continued strength in out-of-room spending patterns" and Lowrance sees the local company doubling the Street's 5-cents-per-share consensus. Gaylord shares (Ticker: GET) have climbed 10 percent in the past week and are up slightly so far in 2011.
Zacks Investment Research analysts have raised their rating on shares of HealthSpring to 'outperform' from 'neutral.' The move comes after the stock (Ticker: HS) has climbed more than 50 percent year to date. The Franklin-based insurer will report its Q1 numbers tomorrow morning.
Shares of HealthSpring posted their highest-ever closing price Thursday with a little help from the health insurance sector's biggest name. UnitedHealth raised its 2011 earnings guidance on the back of both better enrollment and lower medical costs, a potent combo that gave the entire industry a boost.
Not that HealthSpring shares (Ticker: HS) have needed help of late: Since the Franklin-based company announced its intent to buy Bravo Health last August, they've climbed 110 percent.
Analyst David Windley at Jefferies has lifted to $46 his price target for shares of Medicare insurer HealthSpring (Ticker: HS) ahead of the company's investor day tomorrow. There, Windley says, execs are likely to lower their EPS guidance to reflect their recent $301 million stock sale and — more importantly — talk positively about the Medicare environment these days. That should be good for the stock, which Windley has at 'buy.'
Thinking along the same lines is Josh Rankin at Barclays, who has hiked his HealthSpring target price to $48 from $44, making him the most optimistic on the stock, which has run up from the high teens since last August. Rankin has an 'overweight' rating on HealthSpring.
Shares of construction materials supplier Louisiana-Pacific (Ticker: LPX) are down more than 3 percent today after Credit Suisse analyst Chip Dillon lowered his rating on the company to 'neutral' from 'outperform.' Dillon is keeping his $13 price target for the stock, which until this morning had risen about 10 percent year to date.
Nashville-based financial exec Hartley Hall is leading NetForm Exchange, a young company that is setting out to make more efficient the filling out of information forms needed to help businesses find and renew their employees' insurance policies. Hall, a managing director at Citi Community Capital, has hooked up with a silent partner in Memphis. Check out his site here.
It seems there's no stopping investors' stampede into HealthSpring these days: Less than a week after wrapping up a $300 million stock sale that temporarily pushed down its paper, the Franklin-based health insurer has charged up more than 10 percent and is changing above $40 for the first time ever. Volume is above the daily average for the seventh straight day.
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