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Why Investors Weren't Happy With eHealth's Q1 Earnings Beat

By Keith Speights – Apr 24, 2020 at 5:02AM

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The online health insurance provider topped Wall Street's revenue and earnings estimates. But it also delivered some news that wasn't as positive.

What coronavirus? That's what investors in eHealth (EHTH 0.94%) might be thinking. Shares of the online health insurance provider have jumped more than 24% so far this year while the overall stock market plunged in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But whether or not eHealth could keep the good times rolling was up in the air as the company announced its first-quarter results after the market closed on Thursday. Here are the highlights from eHealth's Q1 update.

Smart tablet with online health insurance sign up.

Image source: Getty Images.

By the numbers

Revenue in the first quarter was $106.4 million. This reflected a 55% year-over-year jump. It also trounced the consensus Wall Street Q1 revenue estimate of $87.66 million.

The company announced net income of $3.5 million, or $0.13 per share, in the first quarter based on generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). This represented a turnaround from the GAAP net loss of $5.2 million, or $0.24 per share, reported in the same quarter of 2019.

There was good news with eHealth's adjusted bottom line as well. The company reported adjusted net income of $10.3 million, or $0.39 per share, up from $7.2 million ($0.33 per share) in the same period in 2019. This handily beat the average analysts' earnings estimate of $0.22 per share.

Behind the numbers

One of eHealth's business segments performed really well in the first quarter and one didn't. The company recorded Medicare revenue of $96.2 million, up 75% year over year. Profit for the Medicare segment more than doubled from the prior-year period to $22 million.

But revenue for its individual, family, and small-business segment decreased 26% year over year to $10.3 million. Profit from the segment plunged 57% to $2.6 million. 

Changes in membership drove the fortunes for both segments. The company's Medicare membership soared 46% year over year in the first quarter to 57,899. On the other hand, the number of members in its major-medical individual and family plans fell 19% to 9,365.

Looking ahead

EHealth now anticipates revenue for full-year 2020 will be between $600 million and $640 million. This is an increase from its previous guidance of $580 million to $620 million. 

But what investors look for the most is earnings growth. Despite eHealth's solid revenue and earnings beats in the first quarter, the company lowered its full-year earnings guidance. It expects GAAP earnings per share will be between $2.55 and $3.10. Its previous outlook called for 2020 GAAP EPS in the range of $2.64 to $3.23 per share. Full-year adjusted EPS is forecast between $3.31 and $3.90, down from the previous guidance of $3.56 to $4.09.

The main thing to watch with eHealth in the year ahead is how the company's business could be affected by the coronavirus crisis. CEO Scott Flanders acknowledged the "challenging environment shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic." But he said that eHealth's mission of providing affordable health insurance is "more relevant and important than ever."

Keith Speights has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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