Why Healthways Inc. Shares Jumped

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 Healthways (NASDAQ: HWAY  ) , a specialized health solutions provider that promotes physical emotional and social well-being, jumped as much as 16% after the company reported better than expected first-quarter results after the closing bell last night.

So what: For the quarter, Healthways delivered a 7% increase in revenue to $176.8 million. It announced 20 new contracts signings in the first quarter, including a major contract with a Fortune 100 company that will cover more than 300,000 eligible members. Adjusted net loss for the quarter also shrank to just $0.07 per share from a loss of $0.12 per share in the year-ago quarter. Wall Street had expected Healthways to report a wider loss of $0.11 per share on $176.5 million in revenue. Looking ahead, the company reaffirmed its full-year guidance for $0.11-$0.26 in earnings per share on revenue of $730 million-$760 million.

Now what: It's hard to deny that this was a solid quarter of growth for Healthways with its top line headed in the right direction and its loss shrinking. Furthermore, as health-care costs rise and baby boomers age, the need for fee-based specialized health solutions should only increase; this will play right into the hands of Healthways. However, speaking strictly as a skeptic and value investor, I'd contend that much of that optimism has likely already been baked into its shares. With a robust growth rate I might support a forward P/E of 55, but its expected high single-digit growth rate over the next couple of years doesn't make me a fan at this price.

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