Why Amedisys Inc. Shares Plunged

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 home health care provider Amedisys (NASDAQ: AMED  ) plummeted 16% today after its quarterly results and outlook disappointed Wall Street.

So what: The stock surged in early August on a strong second quarter, but a disappointing third quarter -- loss of $90.4 million on a net service revenue drop of 17% -- coupled with downbeat guidance is forcing Mr. Market to sober up. While the loss was largely due to a one-time $150 million charge related to its settlement of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, results were also affected by soft volume and higher costs, reminding investors about the strong regulatory and secular headwinds that Amedisys continues to face.

Now what: Management now sees 2013 EPS of $0.20-$0.25 on revenue of $1.24 billion-$1.25 billion.

"This guidance excludes the accrual related to our U.S. Department of Justice settlement, and other certain items disclosed in more detail elsewhere in this earnings release," noted Amedisys. "However, our guidance includes an estimate of legal costs associated with our on-going legal matters."

When you combine that ongoing uncertainty with the fact that the stock is still well above its 52-week lows, Amedisys' risk/reward trade-off remains unappealing. 

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