Why Health Management Associates Shares Soared

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of Health Management Associates (NYSE: HMA  ) , an acute-care hospital and health care facility operator in the U.S., jumped as much as 11% after a hedge fund noted interest in raising its stake in the company and following two analyst upgrades.

So what: The bump primarily comes from a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission in which Glenview Capital -- currently Health Management's largest shareholders with 37.8 million shares – urged the company to abandon or amend its poison pill to allow it to acquire up to 25% of all outstanding shares (currently the cap is 15%). Glenview also noted in that filing that it'd consider replacing part or all of Health Management's board of directors. In addition to this ongoing drama, research firms CRT Capital and WallachBeth upgraded Health Management to "hold" and "buy," respectively, from previous ratings of "sell" and "hold."

Now what: This certainly has all the makings of takeover chatter despite Glenview expressing previously that it never had any intention of purchasing a majority stake in the company. The bigger driving force, though, for hospital stocks like Health Management will be the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2014, which will mandate individuals to carry insurance. The thesis here is that if people are required to carry insurance, then the bad debt provisions that stem from treating patients who can't pay should shrink considerably and allow hospital margins to soar. You'd certainly be hard-pressed to find a sector ready to benefit more from Obamacare than the hospital sector, however, at 15 times forward earnings, I suspect you can find cheaper alternatives within the sector than Health Management.

Craving more input? Start by adding Health Management Associates to your free and personalized watchlist so you can keep up on the latest news with the company.

Obamacare will undoubtedly have far-reaching effects, especially in the hospital sector and on companies like Health Management Associates. The Motley Fool's new free report, "Everything You Need to Know About Obamacare," lets you know how your health insurance, your taxes, and your portfolio could be affected. Click here to read more. 


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