Shares of SFBC ( SFCC) are looking a bit healthier than they did last week. Following an earlier delay, which sent its shares into a tailspin, the company has finally issued its long-awaited fourth-quarter results and guidance for the current year. Net income, hurt by a big impairment charge and recent legal fees, fell 36% to $3.8 million in the latest period. Excluding special items, however, the company's fourth-quarter profit of 42 cents a share actually topped Wall Street expectations by 2 cents. Looking ahead, SFBC is now forecasting a drop in this year's profit due to a sharp falloff in business at its scandal-plagued clinic in Miami. Specifically, the company is anticipating operating profit of between $1.44 and $1.58 a share this year. The midpoint of that outlook is well off the $1.88 a share in operating profit the company reported for 2005. Bad publicity about SFBC's operations in Miami, which specializes in running early-stage drug trials, has clearly taken a toll on the company's overall performance. For the first time, SFBC has broken out figures showing the different operating margins for its early-stage and late-stage businesses. As previously calculated by TheStreet.com, the company's early-stage trials boast a much higher operating margin -- exceeding 22% -- than does its late-stage operations. SFBC's late-stage business, which has an operating margin of 13%, is currently the company's only source of growth. Still, investors -- fearing the worst after last week's delay -- seemed relieved to finally have some guidance. After pushing the stock lower during the regular session on Wednesday, they sent it rocketing 15% to $21.06 in after-hours trading.
By now, however, SFBC has lost nearly half of its market value since Bloomberg first started exposing problems about the company four months ago.