Avondale Partners analyst Paula Torch says investors should expect generally good second-quarter numbers from hospital operators in the coming weeks. The recent positive preview from industry leader HCA Holdings was a good tell and should generally translate to other operators. Torch expects LifePoint report earnings per share of $1.01, two cents above analysts’ consensus, on the back of good patient volumes, better cost controls and the upgrading of acquired hospitals. But she’s not as bullish on the prospects of Community Health Systems, which she expects will earn 88 cents per share, a penny less than consensus. But revenues should be strong, she says, helped by easier comparisons to last year’s Q2 and helping to offset spending on doctor recruitment at former HMA hospitals.
Marilyn Tavenner, the former administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, has resigned her seat on the board of LifePoint Health. Tavenner was named a director of the Brentwood-based company only this past April, but is stepping down to focus on her new job as CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans, one of the biggest trade groups in the health care sector.
William F. Carpenter III, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of LifePoint Health, said, “On behalf of LifePoint, I want to congratulate Marilyn on her appointment as AHIP President and CEO. While this means we must lose her as a member of our Board of Directors, the healthcare industry remains very fortunate to have Marilyn as a leader during this time of change. She will play an important role in making communities healthier by providing continued leadership in the efforts to improve access to quality, affordable care for all Americans. Our board understands her need to focus on this new endeavor, and we wish her the very best.”
LifePoint Health has promoted two support center employees, with Ken Gagnon having been named vice president of pharmacy services and Michelle Augusty having been named senior director of communications.
Gagnon joined LifePoint in 2009. In his new role, he will be responsible for planning, directing and coordinating clinical, operational, regulatory and compliance activities for hospital-based pharmacy services.
"Ken has demonstrated exemplary leadership during his tenure with LifePoint and has been instrumental in enhancing pharmacy operations at our hospitals," Greg Hostettler, senior vice president of supply chain operations, said in a release. "We are pleased to recognize his accomplishments and look forward to continuing to grow and improve pharmacy services under his direction."
Augusty joined the LifePoint in 2012. Previously, she was an account executive at DVL Seigenthaler Public Relations.
"Michelle is highly skilled at developing and implementing effective communications strategies to help position LifePoint as a health care leader, both nationally and in the communities we serve," said Diane Huggins, vice president of communications. "She has played a vital role in LifePoint's communications efforts since the day she joined the company, and we are very excited to broader her responsibilities and leadership with this well-deserved promotion."
We still have a bit of hospital stock news to pass on in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in favor in health insurance exchange subsidies. Mizuho Securities’ Sheryl Skolnick has upgraded shares of LifePoint Health to ‘buy’ from ‘neutral’ and set a price target of $95.71, which leaves about 10 percent of upside. Skolnick points out that Brentwood-based LifePoint (Ticker: LPNT) already is “nicely FCF positive” and will benefit from the higher exchange enrollments that are expected.
Newly public Community Healthcare Trust has picked up coverage from analysts at Evercore ISI. They have set a ‘buy’ rating on the Cool Springs-based real estate investment trust and see it climbing to $22 in the coming quarters. Community Healthcare (Ticker: CHCT) closed Monday at $19.07.
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.
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