Why Gentiva Health Services, Inc. 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 Gentiva Health Servcies (NASDAQ: GTIV  ) , a provider of home health and hospice care services and solutions, jumped as much as 22% after the company posted better-than-expected first-quarter results before the opening bell.

So what: For the quarter, Gentiva delivered a net revenue increase of 17% to $487.5 million, reflecting gains from its acquisition of Harden Healthcare in October. Home health revenue rose 8% for the quarter to $224.4 million, hospice care revenue decreased 3% to $174.4 million, and community care revenue totaled $57.1 million. Adjusted income, however, dipped to $4.8 million, or $0.13 per share, from $7.1 million, or $0.23 per share, in the year-ago period. Comparatively, Wall Street was looking for a bit more in the top line ($490.6 million), but Gentiva topped EPS by $0.02. More importantly, in spite of Medicare reimbursement drop concerns, Gentiva was able to reaffirm its full-year forecast, which calls for $1.9 billion-$2.1 billion in revenue and $0.85-$1.15 in EPS -- right in line with the current consensus on the Street.

Now what: Gentiva is a tough call for investors. On one hand, there's a defined trend from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that it's going to continue to push reimbursement rates lower over the long run. Without the aid of acquisitions or out-of-pocket payers, this is going to make growth difficult in select segments for Gentiva. On the other hand, the company is pretty inexpensive at just nine times forward earnings. Of course, even value investors would be wise to account for Gentiva's debt of $1.12 billion, which can act as a hindrance to any significant upside. Overall, I'm leaning slightly toward the optimistic side with Gentiva as it uses its Harden Healthcare acquisition to diversify its operations, but I'd suggest keeping your upside potential expectations in check.

Gentiva shares may have soared today, but it'll likely have a tough time keeping pace with this top stock over the long run
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Sean Williams

A Fool since 2010, and a graduate from UC San Diego with a B.A. in Economics, Sean specializes in the healthcare sector and in investment planning topics. You'll usually find him writing about Obamacare, marijuana, developing drugs, diagnostics, and medical devices, Social Security, taxes, or any number of other macroeconomic issues.

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