Amedisys posts loss from non-cash charge

National home nursing company Amedisys Inc. reported a fourth-quarter loss on paper of $106.8 million, or $3.52 per share, as a result of a $162.1 million noncash charge for impairment of goodwill, which can include the value of the brand name.

Without the noncash charge, the Baton Rouge firm said its earnings were $7.2 million, or 23 cents per share. Stock analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had forecast earnings of 22 cents per share.

For 2013, the company said it expects earnings to be in the range of 60 cents to 70 cents per share on revenue of $1.425 billion to $1.45 billion.

Stock analysts had forecast earnings this year of 77 cents per share on revenue of $1.51 billion.

In 2012, Amedisys had revenue of $1.49 billion.

The 2013 estimate includes the legal costs of government investigations of the company’s Medicare billing practices and the results of the 2 percent Medicare cuts that begin April 1.

Amedisys’ shares slipped $1.19 per share, or nearly 10 percent, to close Tuesday at $11.07. Some 2.2 million shares changed hands, around seven times the normal trading volume.

Amedisys’ full-year 2012 results, including the noncash charge, were a loss of $83.6 million, or $2.79 per share. Without the charges for goodwill and other intangibles, Amedisys’ 2012 earnings were $32.8 million, or $1.08 per share.

In 2011, Amedisys took a much larger writedown of goodwill, $580 million. The charge resulted in a 2011 paper loss of $382.5 million, or $13.07 cents per share. Without those charges, Amedisys earned $66.8 million, or $2.29 per share, in 2011.

In a conference call with stock analysts and investors, Amedisys Chief Executive Officer William F. Borne said he was pleased that the company generated 2012 earnings of $1 per share. The company had predicted earnings in that range at the beginning of the year and in a conference call to discuss its third-quarter results.

This year, the company will focus on growth in all of its business lines, which include Medicare home health, non-Medicare home health, and hospice, Borne said.

Borne said the company also is exploring new delivery and payment models, such as accountable care organizations and bundles.

ACOs and bundling give Amedisys opportunities to expand its relationships with physicians, hospitals, health systems and managed-care companies, Borne said.

Meanwhile, Amedisys said its results reflected the legal costs associated with governmental investigations of the company’s Medicare billing practices. Those charges amounted to $2.4 million in the fourth quarter and $8.5 million for the year.

While 2012 was another difficult year for the home health industry, Amedisys managed to stabilize its Medicare home health admissions, increase its managed-care business and lower operating costs despite declining patient visits, Borne said.