We're a few weeks away from the opening up of many new insurance exchanges under the umbrella of health care reform, and it looks like investors' expectations are being dialed down a good bit. Citigroup analysts Gary Taylor and Carl McDonald said this morning that the market is counting on about 4 million people signing up for health insurance in the coming months. That's down from the 7 million projected earlier this year by the Congressional Budget Office. But Taylor and McDonald say any perceived shortfall could become an opportunity to snap up shares of HCA (Ticker: HCA) more cheaply than today.
Also on the health care spending front, Moody's analyst Ron Neysmith said size is becoming increasingly important in the ambulatory surgery space, which favors Nashville-based AmSurg (Ticker: AMSG) and Symbion, among others. Surgery centers' relatively low overhead and lower reimbursement rates have made them more attractive to insurers paying the bills, Neysmith writes, and have allowed the industry's volumes to easily outpace those of the hospital sector. There are some bumps ahead in terms of payment changes, he adds, but the fundamentals are in place for solid long-term growth.
Two analysts following AmSurg have raised their price targets for shares of the surgery center operator after it reported solid second-quarter results — but kept their ratings at 'hold.' Cantor Fitzgerald's Joe France now sees the stock going to $37 (from $31) while Kevin Ellich hiked his target to $36 from $32. But both of those targets are still well below shares of AmSurg (Ticker: AMSG), which ended Wednesday trading at $39.11, up slightly on the day. So far this year, they've risen 30 percent.
AmSurg executives have struck a deal with their banks to cut the interest rate on their revolving line of credit by 25 to 50 basis points and to extend its maturity date by a year to mid-2018. As of March 31, Burton Hills-based AmSurg had $267 million outstanding on the $475 million line, which carried an average interest rate of 2.5 percent in 2012. Last June, AmSurg also negotiated a 25 basis point cut.
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