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 LifePoint Hospitals (NASDAQ:LPNT) are trading 6% higher today after initially shooting to a 14% gain at the opening bell. Investors have been flocking in following the company's strong second-quarter earnings report.

So what: LifePoint reported a 16% year-over-year rise in quarterly revenue to $1.25 billion, which produced $0.84 in earnings per share. Wall Street had expected just $1.19 billion in revenue and $0.55 in EPS. For the full fiscal year, LifePoint now expects to generate between $4.25 billion and $4.35 billion in revenue (up from an earlier range of $4 billion to $4.1 billion) and between $605 million and $620 million in EBITDA, which would result in an EPS range of $2.99 to $3.19 (up significantly from an earlier projected range of $2.38 to $2.78). Wall Street analysts were looking for a top line of $4.13 billion and EPS of $2.71, so this clearly could be a much better year for the hospital operator than many people expected.

Now what: The midpoint of LifePoint's EPS range puts its forward P/E at approximately 22.6, which is still at the higher end of its past-year valuation range. It would also put the company's earnings per share below levels reached in 2012, before compliance costs sent profits plunging. Nonetheless, this is a strong report that indicates the upside of Obamacare could easily outweigh the new cost burdens it imposes, at least for hospital operators (others in the sector have also begun to report earnings above expectations). Keep your eye on this company, as another big beat -- and another surge in share price -- might be in the cards.

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Alex Planes has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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