When Raymond James analyst John Ransom on Friday cut his rating for shares of Community Health Systems after they'd run up more than 12 percent Thursday on the heels of the Supreme Court's health insurance subsidies opinion, it suggested a straight valuation call.
That's only part of the story.
Ransom has some issues with the deep-down prospects for CHS' ability to grow profits. The Franklin-based company, he notes, doesn't have as much exposure to insurance exchanges and hasn't been helped by slow Medicaid expansion around the country. On top of that, he says the company has spent more money than expected on IT and M&A activities. That'll put something of a cap on growth — something investors will be watching closely given the strong numbers posted by the hospital sector in the spring of last year.
Paula Torch at Avondale Partners doesn't quite see it that way. She has raised her target for CHS to $77 from $62 (and for LifePoint Health to $94 from $84) and says the upcoming comparisons to last year's second quarter will be something to watch but won't change the fundamental dynamics at play.
“We believe that hospitals should be able to put up positive numbers given core strength with incremental benefits as utilization picks up for the exchanges. CYH is the best positioned to take advantage of a ramp in volumes given it has the easiest compares versus its peers,” she wrote.
SEE ALSO: Our post from Friday with additional analyst moves from anlaysts at Leerink, Oppenheimer and Jefferies
A Hendersonville-based revenue cycle manager has taken over some of the billing services work of a Missouri hospital owned by the Mercy network. Xtend Healthcare's contract comes as Mercy officials reportedly laid off about 40 people at the 886-bed hospital. Read more here.
Hospital stocks are seeing a lot of action after the Supreme Court ruled Thursday to uphold subsidies for consumers buying health insurance in states using the federal marketplace.
Avondale Partners analyst Paula Torch reiterated her 'market outperform' rating for HCA Holdings and raised the firm's price target to $103 from $90, saying the Supreme Court ruling "clears the runway for the multiple to expand."
Mizuho analyst Sheryl Skolnick has upgraded the stocks of Community Health Systems from 'neutral' to 'buy' and raised her $52 price target all the way to $83.90. On the flip side, CHS was downgraded by Raymond James John Ransom, who dropped the firm's 'outperform' rating to 'market perform.'
Also happening today:
• Leerink analyst Ana Gupta raised her price target for HCA from $95 to $100. She also raised her target for CHS to $70 from $60 and LifePoint Health from $75 to $85.
• Analysts at Oppenheimer raised their price target on HCA to $82 from $60 and CHS to $102 from $87.
• Jefferies analyst Brian Tanquilut raised his price target for HCA to $108 from $95 and CHS to $79 from $75.
Veteran hospital analyst Gary Lieberman at Wells Fargo expects that the Supreme Court's ruling Thursday safeguarding health insurance exchange subsidies will be the last major challenge to the Affordable Care Act. As a result, he has upgraded shares of locals HCA Holdings and Community Health Systems as well as Tenet Healthcare — even though they soared Thursday — to 'outperform' from 'market perform.' Notably, he left intact his lower rating on LifePoint Hospitals. Overall, Lieberman says the hospital sector should now have solid long-term profit prospects.
HCA Holdings' finance team has saved the company a few dollars by renegotiating two big loans with a group of lenders led by Bank of America. The Nashville-based hospital giant (Ticker: HCA) has replaced a $482 million term loan that would have expired next May and a $717 million facility due next February with a single $1.4 billion credit line that will mature in mid-2020. The new facility also comes with a lower interest rate.
Analyst Sarah James has formally begun covering shares of Nashville's big three hospital operators as well as other prominent health care players. She rates both HCA Holdings and Community Health Systems at 'outperform,' saying investors will benefit from, among other things, the growth of HCA's Parallon support services unit and CHS' potential for margin expansion. James isn't as bullish on the prospects of LifePoint Health, which she has given a 'neutral' rating.
Over at Goldman Sachs, analysts have launched coverage of Amsurg with a 'buy' rating and $81 target. That's 17 percent above where AmSurg (Ticker: AMSG) closed Wednesday trading.
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