Amedisys shares surge on strong second-quarter forecast

Shares of Amedisys Inc., one of the country’s largest home health and hospice companies, jumped nearly 30 percent Friday after the Baton Rouge-based firm announced second-quarter adjusted earnings are estimated at 15 cents to 20 cents per share.

Amedisys shares closed up $4.01 at $17.46. Its stock has traded in a range of $9.51 to $18.70 in the past 52 weeks.

The company said its previously announced plans to close or consolidate care centers and cut general and administrative expenses helped improve the company’s results. The company said its second-quarter revenue would be between $300 million and $305 million.

The projected earnings would far outstrip the estimates of stock analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research or Thomson Reuters. Zacks analysts estimated second-quarter earnings of 1 cent per share and 6 cents per share for all of 2014.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters estimated Amedisys would break even for the quarter on revenue of $296.6 million. For the year, those analysts expect Amedisys to earn 3 cents per share on revenue of $1.2 billion.

Despite the “significant improvement” over the first quarter, Amedisys said it remains cautious about its full-year outlook. There are seasonal fluctuations in business and some performance initiatives are still in the early stages, the company said.

Amedisys reported a first-quarter loss of $12.4 million, or 39 cents per share. But those results included $16.1 million in costs, much of that related to the expense of closing centers and restructuring. Without those expenses, Amedisys’ would have had a loss of $2.2 million, or 7 cents per share.

Sheryl R. Skolnick, managing director of CRT Research, immediately issued a note saying she would like to see how Amedisys managed to boost revenue while cutting costs and consolidating centers.

Neither of those things grow revenue, Skolnick said. More business does.

If Amedisys can sustain that increase, the company has “a prayer” of recovering, she said. If not, the ending may be less happy.

Skolnick has a sell rating on Amedisys and has been a frequent critic of the company’s management in the past.

Amedisys, which has undergone significant changes in recent months, said it plans to discuss its second-quarter results in more detail during a conference call July 30.