The Emergence of Emdeon

WebMD goes for something new.
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The name

Venator

is no longer spoken on Wall Street.

Altria

remains with us, as do

Verizon

,

Vivendi

,

Diageo

and newcomer

Miva

.

Companies alter their names for a variety of reasons -- mergers, a change of business, a repurposing or sometimes just because. Though not always easy to pronounce in the early going, they eventually do take hold. And like beauty, the charm or lack therof is a matter of opinion.

Latest to join the ranks of the identity rebranders is

Emdeon

, hitherto known as

WebMD

(HLTH)

.

That doesn't mean the venerable WebMD name will vanish from the corporate lexicon, however. WebMD Health, the Emdeon Web site that provides health information to consumers, physicians and employers, will emerge from this new strategy.

The Elmwood Park, N.J., company, at one time known as Healtheon/WebMD, says the name change is effective immediately. The new name then, draws a link to the present and the future (the "MD"), while calling upon the company's past (the "eon").

The company says it's changing its corporate name to avoid confusion with the aforementioned WebMD Health, which is set to trade separately under the ticker WBMD following an planned initial public offering. Emdeon's ticker symbol will be HLTH.

Emdeon says the decision made sense because the WebMD name is more closely associated with WebMD Health and its Web sites than with its other businesses.

"In choosing the name, we looked for a name that we could own and to which we could assign our own meaning and vision," the company says. "Our new name, Emdeon, references our history as WebMD and formerly, Healtheon. It also suggests our grounding in e-healthcare."

Emdeon's divisions will be Emdeon Business Services, Emdeon Practice Services, WebMD Health and Porex, a maker of porous plastic products and components used in health care, industrial and consumer applications.

Setting Goals

Additionally, the former WebMD on Thursday posted its quarterly results, saying earnings rose to $16.2 million, or 5 cents a share, from $5.8 million, or 2 cents a share, a year ago.

Income before taxes and items for the second quarter was $45.8 million, or 13 cents a share, vs. $30 million, or 9 cents a share, a year ago. The before-items figure in the latest quarter includes a charge of 1 cent a share, primarily related to severance and recruiting expenses within the WebMD Health segment.

The company's revenue for the second quarter was $322.6 million, compared with $281.9 million a year ago, an increase of 14.4%. On average, analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call were expecting $316.1 million in revenue.

Emdeon reaffirmed its full-year guidance for revenue, income before taxes and items, and for net income, but the per-share amounts have been adjusted for an increase in the number of shares outstanding, resulting mainly from the conversion of $215 million of the company's convertible notes. Revenue should be $1.26 billion to $1.30 billion, an increase of around 10% to 12% over 2004.

The company is projecting a profit before taxes and items of $182 million to $202 million, or 51 cents to 57 cents a share. Net income is expected to be between $73 million and $85 million, or 21 cents to 24 cents a share.

For the third quarter, the company believes revenue will be roughly $325 million to $335 million, and pretax income before items will be about 13 cents to 14 cents a share, with a net profit of 6 cents to 7 cents. Analysts are looking for third-quarter revenue of $323.1 million and a full-year top line of $1.28 billion.

"While our name is changing, our mission and goals remain the same," Kevin Cameron, CEO of Emdeon, said in a press release. "We intend to continue to work, on behalf of our payer, vendor and provider customers, to improve both the financial and clinical aspects of health care delivery. At the core of our vision is the commitment to connect providers, payers, employers, physicians and consumers in order to simplify business processes, to provide actionable financial and clinical knowledge at the right time and place and to improve health care quality."

At any rate, shareholders were selling, sending Emdeon down 48 cents, or 4.4%, to $10.33. The stock has been as low as $9.76 Friday.