Financial analysts in Wall Street have downgraded LabCorp (LH on the New York Stock Exchange), citing a slow down of testing volume growth and lower prices for their services. The analysts also expect a cut in Medicare payment rates and potentially weaker prices from health insurers. In addition, health care reform could lead to further rate cuts and eliminate the obscene profits that LabCorp makes on some of their niche lab tests.
Will the N1H1 Swine Flu help offset these factors? The answer is a flat out no. LabCorp won’t get much of a boost from a swine flu outbreak because flu testing is only a small part of its business.
Even though LabCorp is buying back their own shares, it may not be enough to maintain the share prices at their current levels. Laboratory Corp. of America announced that they will buy back up to $250 million of common stock under a repurchase plan approved by its directors. LabCorp purchased a total of $500 million worth of shares under its previous stock buy-back plan. About $95 million of those repurchases have taken place since the end of June.
With employee dissatisfaction, pending lawsuits and ongoing management problems, it looks like shares of Laboratory Corporation of America are heading down quickly. Some of the company’s insiders sold the shares ahead of the downgrades.
On 09/08/09 LANE WENDY E, a Director, sold 4,116 shares for $68.70 a share.
On 09/02/09 LANE WENDY E, sold 2,604 shares at $68.78 a share.
On 08/17/09 HARDISON DONALD M, the company’s Chief Operating Officer, sold 854 shares at $69.50 per share.
According to Yahoo Finance, during the past 6 months there have been no insider purchases and 5 insider sales. A total of 12,481 shares have been sold by insiders and a net 12,258,100 shares have been sold by institutions, after taking into account purchases by institutions. It seems that some of those who really know what is going on are selling.