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 IPC The Hospitalist (UNKNOWN:IPCM.DL), a care coordinator for hospitalized patients and inpatient partner of primary-care physicians, sank as much as 14% after reporting its first-quarter earnings results after the bell last night.
So what: For the quarter, IPC The Hospitalist delivered net revenue growth of 12.8% to $172.7 million, including same-market area net revenue growth of 8.1% (a measure similar to same-store sales for retailers that cuts out new serviced areas and gives us a more accurate measure of organic growth). Patient encounters also increased 11.9% to 1.76 million. The company also noted that same-market revenue per encounter decreased 0.8% as a direct result of lower Medicare reimbursements. In spite of the strong top-line gains, adjusted EPS for the quarter was flat from the year-ago period at $0.57 as higher expenses ate into the company's margins. By comparison, Wall Street had been expecting a profit of $0.64 per share.
Now what: It's certainly hard to argue against an 8.1% organic growth rate, but with the company so inherently dependent on Medicare reimbursements and the care coordination field so incredibly competitive, I can't help but believe that today's move lower appears somewhat justified. With some murkiness as to how rapidly Medicare reimbursement will be cut moving forward and questions as to whether or not IPC The Hospitalist can keep up its high single-digit same-market growth rate, I would suggest adding the company to your watchlist, but sticking to the sidelines in the meantime.
Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.
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