Saturday, July 30, 2011

Healthstream ( Nasdaq - HSTM) -- Separating from the Pack

Healthstream (HSTM $13.50) reported excellent on target Q2 results.  Earnings advanced 50% to $.09 a share.  Our figures exclude non cash stock option expense and amortization of acquired intangibles.  (See "Accounting Notes" for a complete explanation.)  Margins were reduced by the cost associated with the company's annual user conference.  Healthstream also is adding personnel at a healthy pace to support future growth.  On the other hand margins are starting to benefit from lower per-unit royalties paid to outside content providers.  Healthstream provides the leading computer based learning platform for the health care industry.  Hospital workers take courses over the Internet to keep their skills sharp, learn about new products and procedures, and earn certifications.  Healthstream also is developing a new simulation platform that promises to expand the potential market dramatically over the next several years.  That effort is being done in combination with Laerdal Medical, the leading provider of medical mannequins.  

Revenues climbed 26% to $21.1 million.  The learning division posted a 29% gain.  The smaller research unit, which conducts surveys and other market research programs, posted a 22% advance.  The renewal rate exceeded 100%.  That means renewing hospitals added more personnel to the contracts.  Some customers also signed up for additional courses.  The total number of subscribers rose 63,000 to 2.49 million.  Depending on how the calculation is made, Healthstream ended the period with 42%-45% of the market.  Competition consists mainly of large training and workforce management software providers who address a wide range of industries.  Those companies are performing well but are likely to keep losing market share to Healthstream in the health care segment, primarily because that's only area Healthstream focuses on.

The long term outlook remains bright.  Spending on training by hospitals could keep expanding as the payback improves further.  Content quality continues to improve, fueled by ongoing improvements to the Internet, declining computer costs, and better software features.  The addition of simulation could yield further leverage.  And more third party content providers are likely to adopt Healthstream's platform as a distribution vehicle.  Penetration into related markets like rehab hospitals, surgery centers, and home nursing companies offers additional potential.  Growth could be sustained at a high level well into the decade.  Meantime, we are raising our 2011 earnings estimate by a nickel to $.35 a share.  Next year $.45 a share represents a realistic target.

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