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Will Hurricane Florence Hurt LifePoint’s Patient Volumes?

Zacks

LifePoint Health Inc. LPNT has high exposure to Hurricane Florence, with 30% of its beds in North and South Carolina, which is within the forecast path of the storm, as per analysts as pointed out in CNBC news. This makes the stock vulnerable to earnings miss in the third quarter. Other companies to face the wrath include Community Health Systems, Inc. CYH, HCA Healthcare, Inc. HCA, Tenet Healthcare Corp. THC.

Jefferies analyst Brian Tanquilut said that healthcare facilities in the projected path of Hurricane Florence will likely see a short-term dip in volumes as patients and physicians reschedule elective procedures, office visits, and lab tests. The same should dent patient volumes for Life Point.

The hospital company has already been suffering from low admissions as patients are increasingly choosing to stay away from hospitals due to high out-of-pocket (which shift the initial costs to patients) costs. Also, a pullback of insurers from public exchanges has increased the uninsured rate, which is an added concern.

In 2017, Life Point’s hospital admissions declined 2.3% due to decrease in surgical volumes and emergency room visits. The same was down 1.3% in the first half of 2018. Weak volumes also weighed on revenues. which decreased 1.1% in 2017 and 1.6% in the first half of 2018. We expect the company’s admissions to remain under pressure as it continues to divest its hospitals. This in turn, might lead to decline in number of beds. For 2018, the company expects revenues in the range of $6.25-$6.32 billion, which is almost flat compared with $6.29 billion reported last year.

Life Point has entered into a definitive agreement to merge with RCCH HealthCare. The new organization's size and scale is expected to benefit patients, partners, clinicians and employees. The merger is expected to help the company which is facing low growth.

In a year’s time, the stock has gained 12.6% compared with the industry’s 36.6% growth.

LifePoint carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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