Home nursing company Amedisys sees 1st-quarter loss

Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- Amedisys Inc. is headquartered in Baton Rouge on South Sherwood Forest Boulevard. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- Amedisys Inc. is headquartered in Baton Rouge on South Sherwood Forest Boulevard.

Baton Rouge-based home nursing company Amedisys Inc. reported a first-quarter loss of $12.4 million, or 39 cents per share, compared with a profit of $2.7 million, or 9 cents per share, a year ago.

However, the 2014 results included $16.1 million in costs, most of which were related to closing centers and restructuring expenses.

With that amount added back, Amedisys lost $2.2 million, or 7 cents per share.

Those results still fell short of Wall Street analysts’ forecasts. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected Amedisys to lose 4 cents per share on revenue of $301.9 million.

Amedisys’ revenue was close to that projection. The company reported first-quarter revenue dropped to $298.7 million from $328.6 million a year earlier.

During a conference call with investors and Wall Street analysts, interim Chief Executive Officer Ronald A. LaBorde said the company has improved the health of the 60,000 patients its employees treat every day.

But Amedisys has “fallen short” in translating clinical focus to operating results, he said. The company is focused on turning that around.

Thursday’s earnings were the latest addition to Amedisys’ woes. In the past two years, the company closed 2013 with a $96.2 million loss, a year after losing $83.6 million.

In late February, Amedisys Chief Executive Officer and founder William Borne resigned, and the company agreed to pay a $150 million fine to settle federal allegations that included billing Medicare for services home nursing patients didn’t need. Amedisys disputed the allegations but paid to avoid a costly legal battle.

One of the steps the company is taking is shedding care centers that lost money, had lower patient volumes and were close to another care center, LaBorde said. In late March, Amedisys identified 54 care centers that will close or be consolidated by the end of May.

Those care centers, and others that were previously targeted for closure, lost around $4 million, he said.

Amedisys also sold 10 care centers in Idaho and Wyoming, and the company no longer has centers in those states, LaBorde said.

Meanwhile, Amedisys has cut its general and administrative expenses, cutting positions in the corporate offices and in care centers. Those cuts are expected to lower costs by $10 million a year.

Investors showed little reaction to the earnings report. Amedisys shares closed at $13.36, down 14 cents.