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LabCorp (LH) Stock Declines 10% on Lowered 2018 Guidance

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Shares of Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings (LH - Free Report) or LabCorp dropped following the company’s 2018 guidance cut on Nov 30. The stock declined 9.99% to close at $145.64 the same day.

According to LabCorp, lower-than-expected volume growth within LabCorp Diagnostics, which is also expected to persist for the remainder of the year, compelled the company to lower its full-year guidance.

The Updated Guidance at a Glance

Total revenue growth projection is revised to the band of 9.9-10.3% (from the earlier expectation of 10.5-11.0%). The current Zacks Consensus Estimate for revenues is pegged at $11.39 billion.

Revenue growth within LabCorp Diagnostics has been lowered to the range of 2.1-2.5% (from the prior 3-3.5% band). However, the forecast for Covance Drug Development remains unchanged at 24-26%.

Full-year adjusted EPS view is decreased to $10.95-$11.05 (from the past anticipation of $11.25-$11.45).The Zacks Consensus Estimate of $11.30 falls within but close to the lower end of this guided range.

Free cash flow has been reduced to a range of $940-$980 million (previous band was $975 million to $1.02 billion).

Per LabCorp, the current year’s result will be dented by a softness in demand, primarily attributed to slower growth in referred direct-to-consumer genetic testing, weak referral volume from hospitals and health systems, volume declines from certain managed care plans that will no longer be exclusive to LabCorp in 2019 and adverse weather.

Although, the company has implemented certain cost-controlling initiatives, the same does not look adequate to maintain its prior outlook in light of the unanticipated volume shortfall.

Covance Drug Development Raises Hope

On a brighter note, the company is pinning high hopes on the Covance Drug Development divisiondespite its LabCorp Diagnostics business failed to inspire investors’ confidence.

Under Covance Drug Development business, LabCorp is ready to expand its suite of diagnostic offerings, thereby creating a new industry leader in both laboratory testing and CRO spaces. The company will thus act as a major provider of medical testing besides operating as a premier full-service drug development organization.

Within this business, LabCorp is focused on driving profitable growth for the future through extended solutions and enhanced operational capabilities. The acquisition of Chiltern completed in September 2017, has started to significantly strengthen the company’s strategic position in clinical development and is also accelerating revenues and profit growth within Covance. In this regard, the company is keeping pace with its objective to streamline the drug development process. Moreover, it is winning awards via its integrated Covance and Chiltern offering. In addition, the company has progressed with the Covance LaunchPad initiative.

Share Price Performance

In the past three months, shares of LabCorp have underperformed its industry. The stock has dropped 13.9%, comparing unfavorably with the industry’s 6.2% decline.

Zacks Rank & Key Picks

LabCorp currently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).

Some better-ranked stocks in the broader medical space are Integer Holdings Corporation (ITGR - Free Report) , Surmodics, Inc. (SRDX - Free Report) and Veeva Systems (VEEV - Free Report) .

Integer Holdings has an earnings growth rate of 31.2% for the fourth quarter 2018 and a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Surmodics’ long-term earnings growth rate is projected at 10%. The stock carries a Zacks Rank of 2.

Veeva Systems’ long-term earnings growth rate is estimated at 19.3%. The stock is a Zacks #2 Ranked player.

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