Posts tagged LHCG
The market was off to the races today as if it the races were going to feature Usain Bolt taking on Sara Jane Underwood in the 100 meter dash with the loser having to run a lap in the buff. The big news of course was that Alcoa started off the earnings season by destroying analyst guesses of $.12 eps by earning a whopping $.13 per share in the last Q. That’s right, the fact that a whole extra penny (with rounding) is the difference between a down market and an up 2% market makes as much sense as the theory that gravity is an illusion or candwiches.
Making it even more ridiculous is that as ZeroHedge points out, just last month Bloomberg showed consensus analyst guesses of $.16 for AA’s Q. So with analysts lowering their guesses before the quarter, AA is now back to where it was when guesses were for $.16 so the would have been $.03 miss has been mitigated by strategic downgrades. Brilliant stuff. As the late great Kurt Vonnegut would say, “No damn cat, and no damn cradle.” Analysts are now quickly dropping their guesses on companies across the board because they only get paid when the market goes up and with unemployment benefits going away, they need to keep their jobs like Kathy Griffin needs to keep off of HDTV. That said, AA did raise their guidance for aluminum consumption for the year from 10% to 12% and revenue was up 22% despite cratering aluminum prices as a result of demand slowing down and oversupply given that aluminum is the 3rd most prevalent element in the earth, behind only oxygen and whatever medal Mr. T wears around his neck. That said, the declining prices and rising energy costs are hurting overall profitability but with foreclosures up, demand may surge as the recently homeless grab sheet aluminum to build shanty towns to be known to future generations as WhothefucklentthosepeopleallofthatmoneyVilles or for short Goldmanvilles.
In macro news today, the US trade gap widened to 4.8% or $42B, which is the largest since November 2008 and a gap wider than between the antenna on a new Apple iPhone or the gap between Paris Hilton‘s legs on a Sunday morning. Not surprisingly, a trade gap is the exact opposite of what economists had guessed and thus once again proves that “economist” is not a real job, like rap music spell checker. Imports were up 3% thanks to a 12% increase in imports from China which, as pointed out yesterday, was driven by people not having any money and thus only being able to afford the cheap shit made overseas. US exports continued to see strength, which is a bit surprising given the weakness in the Euro last Q, as they were up 2.4% which was their best month since September 2008 when the US instituted buy one get one free Wednesdays for foreign countries.
And finally, the National Federation of Independent Business (known better as NFIB or “irrelevant”) said optimism declined among small businesses by 3.2% in their monthly survey to which no one pays attention to anyway. NFIB’s chief economist William Dunkelberg (who is still smarting from his decision to leave his hosting gig at Small Business Idol to pursue other career opportunities) opined that: “Confidence is lacking and the news out of Washington is discouraging. Until this changes, don’t expect small businesses to start hiring.” He then went and stole an ice cream cone from a little kid, told his wife she looked fat in those jeans, and ordered a ton of coal so he’ll be prepared to adequately fill the stockings of everyone at the NFIB during Christmas time.
Internationally, Moody’s cut Portugal’s debt rating by two whole notches which means absolutely nothing to Money McBags as he cares what Moody’s has to say about rating debt as much as he cares what Art Laffer has to say about tax policy, Jeffrey Dahmer has to say about cuisine, or Mel Gibson has to say about anything. Moody’s dowgrade stems from Portugal’s national debt having risen sharply relative to GDP as a result of stimulus measures and the 168 siesta hour work week. Moody’s also warned that weak growth would weigh on government finances for two or three more years while Portugal warned that weak analysis would weigh on Moody’s finances for eternity. European markets are up on this news as even they realize that Moody’s is worse at their job than a eunuch sperm donor or Alan Greenspan.
In large cap stocks, just about everything was up as we move in to earnings season with INTC, C, BAC, and GOOG to report this week so hopefully analysts already lowered their guesses in order to keep the market moving. One interesting stock to note is AAPL as the company is down after Consumer Reports said it will not recommend the new iPhone 4 due to reception glitches, and Steve Jobs simply being a dick. In their defense, Apple maintains that any cellphone will lose reception if held a certain way, like in a toilet, at the bottom of Lechuguilla Cave, or up Candice Swanepoel‘s well chiseled buttocks (and Money McBags is volunteering to test that theory out) so there is really no big deal. Plus, to fix the problem, AAPL claims all one needs to do is wrap some duct tape around the iPhone where the gap in the antenna is and who doesn’t want a piece of metallic tape draped around their sleek and expensive gadget? It would almost be like fixing a tear in the Mona Lisa by putting a SpongeBob Squarepants band aid over it.
In small cap news, LHCG was down ~6% today after competitor AMED announced a shitactular Q and dropped nearly 25%. Money McBags broke LHCG down the other week after the SEC announced they were investigating AMED and AFAM for potential shadiness in how they were charging medicare for visits that may not ever have happened or visits that were unneeded. Anyway, guesses for AMED were for quarterly earnings of $1.37 per share and today they said that earnings will be closer to $1.12 which makes it almost as big of a miss as the Edsel or Glitter. Money McBags did not hear AMED’s call but it is reported they said that their client base changed and they will need to reevaluate their structure and will hold off on full-year forecasts. Now look, without further color Money McBags isn’t sure how this will affect LHCG because he has no idea what AMED means by their “client base changing” because either they stopped treating sick people (which would seem a silly thing to do for a home fucking healthcare company) or they started treating fewer sick people and thus had fewer home visits (which is a more likely scenario, especially with the SEC all in their business about charging for too many medicare visits). More concerning though is that shareholders have filed a suit against LHCG for an investigation from April into LHCG’s reimbursement procedures, so fuck Money McBags on that one.
The industry makes sense longterm, the cost savings to insurance companies are too great, and home care is simply better, so it remains a good way to play the aging population trend but there is way too much fucking noise right now for an investor without access to industry insiders to get a leg up on the billing practices. As a result, Money McBags would stay the fuck away from this sector even though a few days ago he said LHCG was an interesting longterm buy (and it still remains that way but Money McBags needs more information to be able to make a sensible decision about the SEC investigations). Anyway, with all of this uncertainty, there are easier ways to make money (like TMRK which is a great takeout candidate and is getting a boost with MSFT’s entry into cloud computing ) so keep watching LHCG but you probably want to avoid going long in the short term unless you have better contacts in the industry than Money McBags has. In times of turmoil, money can be made, but to do so, one needs to be confident that they have all of the information, so do your work here carefully.
The market jolted up on unemployment news this morning before remembering it had already gone up yesterday and thus quickly settled in like an environmentally friendly squatter in Al Gore’s mansion. The big macro news is that new claims for unemployment dropped to 454k or some number higher than that depending on how much the (No) Labor Department manipulates/readjusts numbers next week. Money McBags is not a betting man (unless there is money to be won or young ladies to impress) but he is willing to wager that next week we learn that new claims for this week should have actually been 459k. Anyway, claims were down by 21k, unless you use the number the (No) Labor Department released last week of 472k (not the 475k they redjusted it to this week) and in that case claims were down 18k (though when this week’s number gets manipulated up to ~459k, this week’s drop will go down in the books as only a 13k drop, but whatever). Regardless of what the number actually was, it likely beat analyst guesses of 460k which would be great if 450k+ new unemployment claims didn’t signal an economy less healthy than a Grilled Cheese Burger Melt topped with a spread of Crisco and Pam Anderson’s hepatitis.
To be frank (and if Money McBags is going to be frank, he only hopes it is the awesomely named Frank AllCock and not Frank Stallone), the high unemployment rate and the inability of the global economy to bounce out of this is more confusing to Money McBags than a condom is to Shawn Kemp or the definition of securities fraud is to SEC promoted Meaghan Chung. Money McBags understands there are unkowns, half-knowns, and can’t-knows in a dynamic global economy, but there are 15k+ PhDs of economics in just the US alone so either all of them are complete idiots or that degree is more worthless than the smallest Vietnamese dong. Seriously, how can we have all of these people who trained for years on this one specific topic not have any fucking answers?
For fucksake, a solar powered plane just flew for 26 consecutive hours and while Money McBags is not a heliologist (though he ardently studies Page 3 of The Sun), he is pretty sure for many of those hours the sun wasn’t even fucking out. So let me get this straight. The human race can build something that goes 28k feet in the air and flies around for 26 hours, powered by nothing but the sun and will continue to fly when there is no fucking sun, and yet we can’t figure out how to find jobs for 20MM people? WTF? Money McBags is officially announcing the death of the entire field of Economics until one of the 15k+ US PhDs can figure something the fuck out. What other discipline awards titles for studying theories that don’t work and coming up with hypotheses that can’t be proved? Just think about it. The profession of an economist is a more worthless calling than an Amish computer camp instructor or Heidi Montag‘s singing instructor. Anyway, the economy continues to struggle and economists continue to watch it melt as they are more helpless than a dyslexic trying to use a calculator set for reverse polish notation (as opposed to reverse polish cowboy).
In other US news, retailers announced same store sales and results were mixed despite discounts, warm weather, and a flurry of unconventional sales efforts including Sam’s Cub making small business loans, Office Depot selling items for a penny, and Hot Topic giving away free canwiches with every purchase of a Twilight t-shirt. The Gap led the disappointments with flat sales compared to guesses of up 3.4% as apparently the late 1990s are officially over.
Internationally, the IMF raised their growth forecast from none to none +1, or 4.2% to 4.6% for 2010, whichever you prefer best. They also warned that risks of a calamity have increased faster than the popularity of the high school girl who puts out first and that growth will slow at the end of this year and next year. To quote the release:
“In the near term, the main risk is an escalation of financial stress and contagion, prompted by rising concern over sovereign risk, this could lead to additional increases in funding costs and weaker bank balance sheets, and hence to tighter lending conditions, declining business and consumer confidence, and abrupt changes in exchange rates.”
So no biggie, right? Sign me up for the 4.6% revised upwards growth, nothing to see here. Unfortunately the IMF was not so positive on US growth prospects estimating that growth will fall short of 3% annually for at least the next five years and urged the US to raise taxes, cut spending, and give Alice Eve her own 24 hour cable channel.
Also internationally, the ECB and the Bank of England held rates at historic lows in order to allow already toxic banks to continue to not lend to people and Greece approved a pension overhaul which will raise the retirement age to 65 from birth, will calculate retirement benefits on average pay rather than highest pay, and will cut annual vacation days from 365 to 340.
In US stock news GPS has a bit more than a gap in their strategy (one may call it a hole more gaping than whatever is in the Octomom’s pants) as it is plunging like Lara Bingle’s neckline. As mentioned earlier, their same store sales disapointed with Old Navy posting flat comps, Banana Republic up 6% after a 20% down in the year ago quarter, and The Gap seeing same store sales drop 3% on top of a 10% down comp. Wow, that is so bad that not even Johnnie Cochran would have defended it. Finally, tax preparer HRB was down ~7% to a 9 year low due to the surprising resignation of their CEO who claims he is about to get a CEO job at a bigger company and HRB should just write-off the losses anyway.
In small cap stocks, news is light today as investors wait for earnings and try not to panic sell everything as they think about the challenges of the economy and the illiquidity of most of these names. LHCG had its second strong day in a row after getting clobbered last week on news that competitors AFAM and AMED were being investigated for false medicare claims. Money McBags broke them down for you last week and thinks it is an ok entry point right now if you need some healthcare exposure. They are in a growing market, offer a superior service, and are relatively cheap for their growth. Sure they don’t have control over the majorty of their pricing, sure they are a roll up story, and sure these companies have been dicier than a night in the Baghdad Hilton Suites, but people aren’t getting any younger or healthier and hospitals aren’t getting any bigger. So if you want a way to play the “we’re all getting old and sick and can’t pay for it” trend, this is a company to do that with and at a reasonable mulitple.
It was another volatile day in the market as initial jobless claims came out and were much worse than expectations which is not surprising to anyone except for those who make those expectations. Claims were up by 13k to 472k while analysts had guessed that they would drop to 452k which means on average they couldn’t even get the 50-50 directional guess right. And as usual, claims were part of the weekly we suck at math derby (also known as “Numbers Manipulation Thursday”) as last week initial claims were 457k, so if they grew by 13k this week, that should have made claims 470k, but of course the (No) Labor Department wants to try to mitigate the fuckawfulness of the economy so they always release a slightly better number and then revise it worse when no one is paying attention. So last week’s claims were revised up to 459k and thus we get the true mathmatical equation 459k + 13k = Holy shit we’re fucked (or 472k, potato, puh-tato). The good news is that people claiming extended benefits dropped by 376k, the bad news is that number fell because the government voted to stop paying them, so um, welcome to the double dip (and not the kind where you only get bacteria), make sure you are properly supplied with canned foods, matches, and plenty of viewing material because this could get interesting. And to reiterate, Republicans filibustered a bill to continue extended unemployment benefits which is the first time this has ever happened with an unmeployment rate above 7.5% during a recession and it immediately cuts off 1.5MM unemployed people from cash flow they may need. If ever Money McBags wanted to lose an election, that is exactly what he would do, fuck the people who need help in the midst of the biggest recession in history. What wasn’t reported was that Republican Senators also filibustered dignity and common sense while proposing legislation to have unemployed people serve as speed bumps on Pennsylvania Avenue to keep drivers from going to fast.
In other US macro news, pending home sales also hit the shitter (and hit it with the force of a taco bell bean burrito slathered in extra hot sauce and Ecoli) which surprised analysts but shouldn’t have surprised readers of WGP. The pending home sales index fell to 77.6 from 110.9 because the first time home buyers tax went away which is only something that has been known for months. The 30% drop in the index dwarfed the 12% drop analysts had guessed once again proving that past performance is no indication of future performance in regression models when we live in a fat tailed economy. Finally the House passed a financial overhaul bill which will now go to the Senate for a vote on what should be sweeping changes but has been watered down more than Christina Hendricks in a wet t-shirt contest.
In addtion to macro news that was so bad not even Chris Dodd could have done something to make it worse, Goldman was further questioned by the FCIC today on their derivatives trading as relates to AIG (and as usual Money McBags would love to have the FCIC’s Heather Murren question him about the exposure of his long derivative). CFO David Vinnar was nice enough to constantly conflict himself by telling the commission that Goldman doesn’t have a “derivatives business,” but when questioned on how Goldman can call themselves a “top five derivatives dealers in the world,” he acknowledged that Goldman’s derivatives business is “a very big part of what we do.” Money McBags guesses that kind of logical fallacy or semantics masturbation is bound to happen when one talks out of their ass. Anyway, this whole thing is just theatre since if the government really wanted to shut themselves, I mean Goldman, down, it would take about 3 minutes of actual investigation.
Internationally, China is showing more signs of slowing down than Robert Byrd, as new data shows the second derivative of their manufacturing sector is likely abating. Two indexes (indices? indi? indiyouknowwhatthefuckimean) came in below analyst guesses, though still showed expansion (but that expansion is now more like from flaccid to quarter chub as opposed to full pitched tent). Tao Wang (not to be confused with Tiger Wang, Dong Wang, Peter Wang, or Wang Chung) an economist at UBS China said “economic growth is strong but momentum has peaked” and if that is true, the global recovery may need another shot of stimulus or else it could flatline worse than Gina Lee Nolin‘s acting career. In other intentational news, Spain was able to sell 3.5B of 3 year Euro bonds after promising not to default on them and promising to have Rebecca Ronda personally deliver them to all buyers along with a refreshing spanish milkshake. The fact that Spain was able to get their bonds out and not at a too exorbitant yield is a positive, though Moody’s has now placed Spain’s credit ranking on review for a possible downgrade, citing “deteriorating” growth prospects, challenges in meeting deficit targets, and the fact that no one in the country works. That said, Money McBags cares what Moody’s has to say about as much as he cares about Donald Rumsfield’s thoughts war strategy, Chuck Klosterman’s opinion on pop culture, or Aristotle’s view on the heliocentric universe.
In stock news it’s uglier out there today than it was in Barbara Streisand’s bridal suite when James Brolin went out for a smoke. One stock moving nicely up though is Ford as they announced a 13% rise in sales for the month of June led by the Ford Focus, their Super Duty F1 series, and pure luck. That said, the company announced a $4B buyback yesterday so has had good news two days in a row which currently qualifies it for the award as greatest stock ever. In other news, financials continue to sputter because there is currently less faith in the financial system than there is in Norse mythology. The Treasury department has been reducing their holdings of C which is good because the government shouldn’t own public companies, especially ones going $0.
In small cap news, ZAGG is unsurprisingly selling off after it hit $3 for no reason the other day and Money McBags broke down why the stock was at least $1 too expensive. One sector that Money McBags has liked but is getting destroyed today like a college senior’s hopes and dreams is the home health care sector. Small cap names AFAM and LHCG have been solid performers as they offer a service that is both cheaper than hospital stays and better for patients as home recovery rates are better than hospitalization recovery rates. The problem is these companies rely heavily on medicare funding and their billing practices have always been questioned.
Well today, the SEC announced they are launching an investigation in to AFAM and AMED around the companies billing more home visits to medicare than they actually made. That news is less good than waking up next to an unshaven Kathy Bates. As a result the sector is down 10% today and rightfully so, in fact if Money McBags owned any of these companies he would be puking them out like a bulimic with a vomit fetish. That said, LHCG does not seem to be part of the investigation so it could be a good time to try to pick this up on the cheap once things settle. Money McBags has always preferred LHCG in this group because they are a bit more rural than the others and therefore face less competition. That said, the market is enticing as it is growing 10%-15% a year as the population ages and home health care becomes a more ready solution. It costs medicare $132 per home health care visit vs. $6k for a hospital stay and as mentioned before, recovery rates are better at home because patients aren’t around so many fucking sick people all day.
LHCG earned $.64 a share in Q1 and gave guidance for $615MM to $625MM in full year revenues and $2.75 to $2.85 eps. With the sell off today the stock is trading at only 9x this year’s eps guidance and yet the market is growing by double digits. Revenue was up 17% last Q and guidance does not take in to account any de novo branches which only take a year to reach full margins. The company has ~$13MM net cash to still make acquisitions and the market is ripe for continued rolling up as the top 4 players are only ~10%-12% of the market. The problems are the reliance on medicare funding and the government’s ability to slash that at any time, the need for continued acquisitions, the uncertainty of any future medical liability issues (as with all health care providers), and the current SEC investigation on competitors. Still, this is a growing market and is a cheaper alternative for medicare and insurance companies that ultimately provides better service and better results so why not buy this for 9x earnings when you can? As he said, Money McBags would let this settle because the last time fudged billing fears struck the industry, these stocks got pulverized even though none of the public companies were found to be complicit. So bide your time but put this on your buy list. And to reitirate for those of you new to WGP (and if you’re new, don’t forget to join WGP on Facebook), Money McBags’ buy/interesting list consists of KIRK, KITD, TMRK, CTGX, CRUS, QCOR, NTRI, EPAX and now LHCG among others. Many of those are getting to be pretty washed out (KIRK, KITD, CTGX) and yet have nice earnings streams and solid longterm businesses so once the market is done dying, those are companies that should see positive momentum. And while the market drops, there is always WGO and ZAGG to short, or just buy TWM and watch Wall Street burn.