Analysts lift LifePoint targets

Local RBC Capital health care analyst Frank Morgan has hiked his price target for shares of LifePoint Hospitals waaaaaaay up to $89 from $63 following the company's blowout second-quarter earnings report. Morgan says health care reform is driving most of the good numbers but he likes the improved visibility into the company's operations and continues to rate the stock an 'outperform.' LifePoint shares (Ticker: LPNT) have climbed to $74 from $65 since its report but Morgan isn't the only one who sees them rising further. Over at UBS Securities, A.J. Rice has raised his target to $80 from $73.

Jul 29, 2014 12:12 PM

Avondale: Look for Dollar General sales to get boost from Dollar Tree disruption

Put Avondale Partners analyst Mark Montagna among the group of market watchers that thinks Dollar General will actually be a beneficiary of the planned Dollar Tree-Family Dollar combination. In a note to clients, Montagna writes that same-store sales at Goodlettsville-based Dollar General should get boost from the disruption of Dollar Tree's deal for up to three and a half years. He adds that gross margins, which have been slipping due to pricing pressures and the rollout of lower-margin tobacco products, should bottom out this quarter and rise all the way through 2016.

DLTR is likely to take charge of what it deems necessary for adjusting store inventory by category and product line, which should include inserting some of its successful merchandise priced at $1 and below. Such changes are likely to lead to store manager turnover, changing merchandise selection, and general customer confusion over what exactly they can count on FDO carrying.

Montagna rates Dollar General (Ticker: DG) a 'market outperform' and sees it climbing to $65 from its current level of $56 and change.

Jul 29, 2014 10:52 AM

Analyst calls lift Healthways, Tractor Supply

Shares of Healthways (Ticker: HWAY) are up more than 12 percent in the last of hour of trading today after Dougherty & Co. analyst Brooks O'Neil lifted his rating on the company to 'buy' from 'neutral' and said he sees the stock climbing to $20. The move came after Healthways published its second-quarter profits and said it expects to put up better margins for the rest of this year. "We still believe the earning power of the business far exceeds its current level and we think the presence of the agitator group (now with 3 board seats) has put incremental pressure on management to deliver solid results this year," O'Neil wrote. "Our thinking has evolved over the past few months to include a realization that there is limited downside and potentially positive upside here."

Also benefiting from a post-earnings analyst call is Tractor Supply. Feltl & Co. analyst Brent Rystrom now rates the stock a 'buy' instead of a 'hold,' and Rystrom now sees the Tractor Supply shares (Ticker: TSCO) headed to $68 from their Wednesday close of $61.07.

Jul 24, 2014 2:30 PM

Sandler lifts Pinnacle rating

Analyst Stephen Scouten at Sandler O'Neill has raised his rating on shares of Pinnacle Financial Partners to 'buy' from 'hold' after the bank holding company reported its second-quarter numbers. The move by Scouten is based on the valuation of Pinnacle, which is off about 10 percent from its recent highs (Ticker: PNFP) but is still up about 15 percent so far in 2014.

Jul 21, 2014 7:17 AM

Analyst action: Pinnacle, Clarcor

Kevin Reynolds at Wunderlich Securities has raised his price target for shares of Pinnacle Financial Partners to $40 from $37 after the bank holding company reported its Q2 numbers. Reynolds says investors shouldn't put too much stock in the earnings beat because of a smaller loan loss provision, but he nonetheless likes Pinnacle's long-term prospects. Pinnacle shares (Ticker: PNFP) closed Thursday trading at $36.05 and are up 11 percent so far in 2014.

At Robert W. Baird, analyst Richard Eastman has hiked his rating on Clarcor shares to 'outperform' from 'neutral,' citing better fundamentals, the benefit of recent acquisitions and a decent valuation. He sees Clarcor (Ticker: CLC), which closed Thursday at $60.46, climbing to $67 in the coming quarters.

Jul 18, 2014 7:19 AM

Analyst: HCA's Q2 could lead to 'stock-enhancing capital deployment'

Jefferies & Co. analyst Brian Tanquilut sees bigger things coming from HCA Holdings' positive earnings preview this week. He thinks that "HCA's strong cash flows open up opportunities for stock-enhancing capital deployment" such as acquisitions or share buybacks. (The company late last year spent $500 million to repurchase some of its stock.) Tanquilut also lifted his price target for HCA to $72 from $70.

Jul 18, 2014 6:47 AM

Did HCA sandbag on Obamacare boost?

Veteran Wells Fargo analyst Gary Lieberman says the guidance raise by HCA Holdings Wednesday looks to be on the conservative side given that the benefits of health care reform aren't going to end anytime soon. He has reiterated his 'outperform' rating on shares of HCA, which jumped 10 percent (Ticker: HCA) to a record high. On the flip side, Paula Torch at Avondale tells Investor's Business Daily that HCA is proving (again) to be best in class.

Jul 17, 2014 9:54 AM

Analyst action: Brookdale, Tractor Supply

Analysts at Goldman Sachs have begun formally covering Brookdale Senior Living, which last week got shareholder approval to close its big purchase of Emeritus. The firm has a 'buy' rating and a $44 price target for the stock (Ticker: BKD), which $34.14 and is up about 2 percent today.

Brian Nagel at Oppenheimer has cut his price target for Tractor Supply shares to $60 from $70. The move comes a few days after several other analysts made similar moves on the heels of Tractor Supply's second-quarter earnings warning. At around 12:30 p.m.. Wednesday, Tractor Supply (Ticker: TSCO) was down slightly to about $60.85.

Jul 16, 2014 12:37 PM

Don't freak out if HealthStream's subscriber growth slowed in Q2

Looking ahead to HealthStream's second-quarter earnings report, Richard Close at Avondale Partners says he won't be surprised if the company's strong subscriber growth slowed. The culprit is likely to be the cloudy outlook during the quarter around the implementation of the new ICD-10 diagnosis and procedure code. But with an Oct. 1, 2015, deadline now in place, Close says investors should get some clarity from CEO Bobby Frist. He expects HealthStream to post pro forma earnings per share of 7 cents, a penny less than the Street's consensus. Shares of the company (Ticker: HSTM) rose slightly to $22.89 Monday but are down about 30 percent so far in 2014.

Jul 15, 2014 6:46 AM

Cantor ups CHS target

Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Joe France has lifted his price target on shares of Community Health Systems to $45 from $42. That gives investors a little bit of upside in the Franklin-based hospital operator — which opened trading this morning (Ticker: CYH) at $42.91 — but still leaves France well short of the $50 median price target for the company.

Jul 14, 2014 1:27 PM