Baton Rouge-based home nursing giant Amedisys Inc.’s second-quarter earnings dropped more than 60 percent to $8.0 million, or 27 cents per share, compared to $22.9 million, or 79 cents per share, a year ago.
But the lower results were still better than the average forecast of Wall Street analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters. Those analysts forecast earnings of 24 cents per share on revenue of $374.9 million.
Amedisys reported its second-quarter revenue rose to $378.5 million compared to $368.4 million in 2011, an increase of 2.7 percent.
Amedisys also said it expects its 2012 earnings per share to range from 95 cents to $1.10, with revenue in the range of $1.49 billion to $1.53 billion.
Amedisys stock rose Tuesday by 33 cents, or 2.7 percent, to close at $12.61.
In a report issued Tuesday, Sheryl Skolnick, co-head of research at CRT Capital Group LLC, said Amedisys’ hospice business allowed the company to beat analysts’ expectations.
The average length of stay at same-store hospice locations increased by about 11 days to 97 days, and the revenue per day rose by $4.71, Skolnick said.
However, Skolnick described the hospice numbers as “very troubling” and the hospice industry as highly controversial with a lot of scrutiny from the U.S. Justice Department.
Meanwhile, Amedisys’ home health business was less profitable, with higher admissions but lower margins, she said.
Kevin LeBlanc, Amedisys director of investor relations, said the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services provide a six-month benefit, or length of stay, for hospice services.
Amedisys’ length of stay is roughly half of that amount, LeBlanc said.
“We are very cognizant of length of stay. It’s not even approaching a full term for that,” LeBlanc said.
Amedisys has noticed that hospice patients are using the benefit a little earlier in their diagnosis, LeBlanc said.
In the past, people were more reluctant to admit they were in the last stages of life and often waited until almost the very end to enter hospice.
Hospice care is slowly gaining more acceptance, and that’s why people are moving to hospice care a little more quickly, LeBlanc said.