The Tennessee Health Services and Development Agency last week approved freestanding emergency department plans for Sumner Regional Medical Center and TriStar Summit Medical Center.
HSDA counsel Jim Christoffersen confirmed that LifePoint Health hospital Sumner Regional will move forward with its five-room project, which is expected to cost $7 million. The TriStar Summit standalone ER in Mt. Juliet will consist of eight treatment rooms and has an estimated cost of $11.1 million.
Several other Middle Tennessee hospital systems have filed certificate-of-need applications for freestanding ERs this year. TriStar Southern Hills and Saint Thomas Midtown were both denied in March for projects planned in Brentwood, while Community Health Systems' subsidiary Gateway Medical Center was approved last month for an ER in Clarksville.
Hospital stocks already had fallen a long way from their spring peaks. On Thursday, they took another tumble after executives with insurance giant UnitedHealth Group said they may not return to the insurance exchange market in 2017. That's a sharp turnabout from last month, when the company said it would add 11 states to its exchange lineup. But now execs say they expect to take a $500 million bath on their insurance exchange business in 2016, and they have scaled back their marketing of those products.
“We cannot sustain these losses,” Chief Executive Officer Stephen Hemsley told analysts on a conference call. “We can’t really subsidize a marketplace that doesn’t appear at the moment to be sustaining itself.”
The news delivered an early-morning blow to the shares of Middle Tennessee's hospital companies and there was no recovery during the day. Heading into the last few minutes of trading, HCA Holdings was down 6.1 percent while Community Health Systems was off 8.5 percent and LifePoint Health was giving up 5.6 percent. Shares of surgery center and physician services company AmSurg (Ticker: AMSG) also were down more than 5 percent.
Combined, those drops wiped out $2.4 billion of the market value of the four local companies — $1.7 billion of that number in HCA alone. Industry peers Tenet Healthcare and Universal Health Services also didn't avoid the red ink.
Avondale Partners analyst Paula Torch has lowered her price target for Community Health Systems from $60 to $40 based on the Franklin company's weak third quarter. However, Torch is maintaining her 'market outperform' rating for the company and says there is opportunity for CHS to improve during the fourth quarter because of the solid performance expected from its legacy facilities.
"Former HMA facilities continue to create a drag on earnings," Torch wrote in a report this week.
Additionally, Mizuho Securities analyst Sheryl Skolnick has cut her price target for the second time in two weeks, from $34 to $30. In late October, she slashed her target from $77 after CHS issued a profit warning.
Shares of CHS (Ticker: CYH) were up 3.5 percent mid-day Wednesday to $28.34. Year to date, though they're still down 47 percent.
Four of the top executives at Community Health Systems last week followed Chairman and CEO Wayne Smith's lead in spending thousands of dollars to exercise stock options in the wake of a profit warning that put a hurting on the company's stock. Combined, the quartet spent more than $600,000 to add to their holdings.
• CFO Larry Cash spent $181,800 on 10,000 options.
• Executive Vice President and Secretary Rachel Seifert spent almost $91,000 to exercise 5,000 options that would have expired in 2019.
Shares of CHS (Ticker: CYH) have done little since plummeting following Smith & Co.'s warning. They closed Friday trading at $28.04 and are off nearly 50 percent year to date.
Two more analysts tracking Community Health Systems have formally reacted to the company's profit warning last week. Most notably, Ana Gupte at Leerink Partners has slashed her price target for the hospital owner to $33, less than half the $75 she had expected CHS to reach in the coming year. She now rates CHS at 'market perform' instead of 'outperform' and says, among other things, that there is little sign medical cost trends will reverse themselves soon.
Over at Robert W. Baird, veteran analyst Whit Mayo has lowered his CHS rating from 'outperform' to 'neutral.' Mayo's new target for the Franklin-based company is $32, which is 15 percent above where the stock (Ticker: CYH) was changing hands in early Tuesday trading.
Community Health Systems Chairman and CEO Wayne Smith is looking to send investors a message. Days after his team warned that third-quarter profits would be well below analysts' expectations — and the market lopped more than $1.5 billion off the company's market cap — Smith (pictured) on Monday spent more than $900,000 to exercise a batch of stock options that would have expired in 2019 and then held on to the resulting shares. The move took the 69-year-old's total direct and indirect holdings of Franklin-based CHS (Ticker: CYH) to nearly 1.8 million shares.
Smith's big option exercise came after his largest investor, hedge fund Glenview Capital, on Friday said it had trimmed its CHS stake by about 2 percent — for proceeds of nearly $8 million — the day before, when CHS plummeted by more than 30 percent. An interesting side note to that filing: Glenview on Thursday spent nearly $15 million to add to its holdings in Tenet Healthcare as that company, too, gave up a lot of ground.
POSTDATA: WARRANTY DEEDS