Updated from 4:44 p.m. EST
warned Monday that it will fall far short of Wall Street's financial targets for 2006 as the hospital chain digests recent acquisitions.
The Brentwood, Tenn., company offered detailed quarterly and full-year targets late Monday ahead of a conference call with analysts. Shares in LifePoint were halted to allow Wall Street to get a good look at the numbers, and judging by expectations investors probably didn't like what they saw.
LifePoint said it should make 50 to 55 cents a share for the first quarter on revenue of $585 million, and $2.18 to $2.35 a share for the year on revenue of $2.33 billion. Wall Street was looking for a 70-cent profit on $611 million in revenue for the first quarter and $2.87 a share for the year on revenue of $2.5 billion.
"We have acquired some great assets in great communities," CEO Kenneth Donahey said in a postclose statement. "Our year will be focused on laying the foundation for future growth and opportunities. As we have previously stated, the integration of the former Province facilities and our other recent acquisitions will take time, but we are up to the challenge of capitalizing on these great opportunities."
CRT Capital analyst Sheryl Skolnick declared the company's guidance a "tremendous disappointment." To be fair, Skolnick did say the forecast seems to exclude some acquisition-related contributions that Wall Street had been counting on. However, she said the company's guidance would have come up far short of expectations anyway.
"I think that the numbers look low," said Skolnick, who has yet to establish a rating on the stock. Meanwhile, "the bad-debt ratio looks very high. ... This tells me that the fourth quarter had to be a very difficult quarter" for the company.
LifePoint has yet to release fourth-quarter results. However, Skolnick has already warned that the latest quarter could have been "close to a disaster" for the rural hospital company.
The news comes just hours after rival
offered its own guidance, though that hospital chain's numbers didn't appear nearly as disappointing.