Leave it to modern technology to make even radiological services seem sexy. Thanks to its clever model, Nighthawk Radiology
It marks the third consecutive quarter that the company has beaten analyst estimates by more than a token penny or two since going public. It topped targets by 40% and 36% in the first and second quarters respectively. Revenues surged 47% higher to hit $25.2 million, also ahead of where the pros were parked.
So what exactly is this clever model? Glad you asked. Nighthawk is a pioneer in a teleradiology. Let's say you trip over your dog in the middle of the night -- that darned Rover -- and you think you broke your leg. You head out to the hospital emergency room, but certified radiologists to interpret your X-rays are hard to come by at 3 a.m. That's where Nighthawk comes in. The company is able to beam your image to expert radiologists in Australia or Switzerland who happen to be board-certified and U.S.-trained. Yes, they're wide awake in that part of the world. They're probably a whole lot cheaper, too.
Breaking the rules, the right way
I originally wrote about Nighthawk in the June issue of the Rule Breakers newsletter service. It was part of a welcome trend in which telemedicine -- the art of providing medical services remotely -- was spawning some intriguing IPOs. Another company that came public this year is Visicu
I hear you. When it comes to medicine, we all love human contact. Who doesn't find the old-fashioned docs who make house calls endearing? Telemedicine isn't going to hand you a lollipop. The problem is that in many cases, old-fashioned medicine is no longer feasible, or is too cost-prohibitive. Remote areas are begging for telemedicine, and even Metropolis can be overburdened and understaffed. You don't have to like it to profit from it. Companies like Visicu and Nighthawk are making their mark by increasing the breadth and efficiency of what is practical and available.
Nighthawk did warn that there will be a sequential dip in the current quarter from existing hospital sites, but analysts were already braced for the seasonality. Operating profits had also dipped sequentially in 2004 and 2005 (even though the top line did inch higher in both of those cases). Wall Street had been expecting revenues to fall slightly sequentially in the December quarter and for earnings to come in flat with that $0.16 per share showing that the company obliterated this morning. In short, there is no real disappointment there.
The company's stock hit a high of $27.50 shortly after going public earlier this year, and it is trading much lower than that today even as the fundamentals continue to improve. There's an opportunity there, even if I'm not enamored of the notion of a recently announced secondary offering of 5 million shares by original investors. Leaving so soon? Go ahead; that blemish is making it even cheaper to buy into the Nighthawk story at this point.
A history of medical prowess
Yes, medical devices and services can be sexy for investors. Sonosite
Later today, the October issue will go out to all subscribers with two brand-new picks. They may not be cutting-edge companies reinventing medical services this month, but it's that same kind of breakthrough spirit that tends to permeate throughout most of the newsletter service's selections. Yes, there is still time to pick up a free trial subscription. And if you happen to wind up tripping over your dog tonight in your rush to subscribe, don't worry -- there's a Nighthawk radiologist in Sydney cracking his knuckles just waiting to take a closer look.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has never broken a bone in his body, but that doesn't mean that there isn't an inner Evel Knievel in him. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. T he Fool has a disclosure policy.