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LifePoint Hospitals, Inc. (LPNT - Snapshot Report), a Zacks #1 Rank stock, exceeded analysts’ earnings expectations in 14 out of the past 16 quarters. Consensus earnings estimates for this year and next year are up over the past two months. Earnings per share are projected to grow 13% over the next 3-5 years. The company has a price-to-book ratio of 1.5, compared to 4.6 for the market and 2.2 for the industry in which it participates.

Full Analysis

LifePoint Hospitals, Inc. is a leading hospital focused on providing healthcare services in non-urban communities in 19 states. Of the company's 51 hospitals, 47 are in communities where LifePoint Hospitals is the sole community hospital provider.

On Apr 26, LPNT reported first-quarter profits of 67 cents per share, compared to profits of 60 cents per share for the same period last year. In addition to achieving an 11.7% year-over-year gain, the result beat analysts’ expectations by three cents. LPNT topped the Street’s earnings estimate in 14 out of the past 16 quarters. Revenues from continuing operations jumped to $669.3 million from $586.6 million a year earlier.

LPNT increased revenues for the past seven years. Its profit more than doubled in 2006, coming in at $146.2 million from $72.9 million in 2005. LPNT is scheduled to report its second-quarter results on Jul 26.

President and CEO William F. Carpenter III stated, "We believe that our unrelenting focus on providing value to the communities in which we operate, combined with the implementation of our company-wide strategic initiatives, will not only benefit our company and our communities, but will enhance shareholder value for the long term."

The consensus earnings estimate for this year jumped six cents to $2.59 over the past 60 days. Profit forecasts for next year have risen 13 cents to $2.90 over the same period of time. Earnings per share are projected to grow 13% over the next 3-5 years.

LPNT is currently trading at a valuation of 15.3x current fiscal-year estimated earnings and at 13.7x next fiscal-year estimated earnings. The market, as represented by the S&P 500, is trading at a valuation of 16.2x current fiscal-year estimated earnings and at 15.2x next fiscal-year estimated earnings. The company has a price-to-book ratio of 1.5, compared to 4.6 for the market and 2.2 for the industry in which it participates.

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