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LabCorp's (LH) Q4 Earnings Beat Estimates, Margins Rise

Zacks Equity Research

Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings LH or LabCorp reported fourth-quarter 2019 adjusted earnings per share (EPS) of $2.86, up 13.5% from the year-ago quarter. Also, the bottom line surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 2.1%.

The quarter’s adjustments exclude non-recurring items like venture fund investment related gains and loss on sale of certain assets, among others.

On a reported basis, net earnings were $2.32 per share, surging 48.7% from the year-earlier figure.

For 2019, adjusted EPS came in at $11.32, up 2.7% year over year. The figure beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 0.6%.

Revenues in the quarter under review grew 5.7% year over year to $2.95 billion. The top line also beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 0.7%.

The upside in revenues was driven by acquisition-related growth of 4.5% and organic growth of 2.3% (considering 0.9% adverse impact of lower Medicare and Medicaid pricing as a result of implementation of Protecting Access to Medicare Act or PAMA), partially offset by the disposition of businesses of 0.6% and negative foreign currency translation of 0.2%.

Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise


Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise

Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings price-consensus-eps-surprise-chart | Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings Quote


For 2019, revenues came in at $11.55 billion, up 1.9% year over year. The top line also beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 0.2%.

Quarter in Detail

LabCorp reports results under two operating segments — LabCorp Diagnostics and Covance Drug Development.

In the fourth quarter, LabCorp Diagnostics reported revenues of $1.76 billion, reflecting a 3.7% uptick year over year. The upside primarily resulted from 0.8% organic growth and 3.5% contribution from acquisitions, offset by a 0.5% headwind from business dispositions. Organic revenue growth in the quarter was impacted by 1.5% due to the implementation of the PAMA.

Excluding business dispositions, the company witnessed a 2.6% rise in total volume (measured by requisition) and 1.6% improvement in revenue per requisition in the fourth quarter.

Covance Drug Development revenues improved 9.3% to $1.20 billion in the fourth quarter buoyed by a 6.0% contribution from acquisitions and 4.5% of organic growth, partially offset by a 0.9% impact owing to the disposition of the Covance Research Products business and 0.4% due to adverse foreign currency translation.


Gross margin grew 8 bps to 27.9% during the fourth quarter. Also, adjusted operating income rose 8.3% year over year to $407 million. However, adjusted operating margin expanded 30 bps from the year-ago quarter to 13.8%.

Cash Position

LabCorp exited 2019 with cash and cash equivalents of $337.5 million compared with $426.8 million in the year-ago period. Cumulative cash flow from operating activities at the end of 2019 was $1.44 billion, up from $1.31 billion a year ago. Additionally, free cash flow at the end of 2019 was $1.04 billion, up 13% from the year-ago period.

In the fourth quarter, the company returned $50 million to shareholders via share repurchases. LabCorp currently has $900 million of authorization remaining under its existing share buyback plan.

2020 Outlook

The company has provided its 2020 guidance.

Revenue growth has been estimated at 4.0% to 6.0% over 2019 revenues of $11.55 billion. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for current-year revenues is pegged at $11.93 billion.

Adjusted EPS estimate for 2020 has been estimated within $11.75 to $12.15, suggesting an increase of 3.8% to 7.3% over 2019 adjusted EPS of $11.32. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the same is pegged at $11.94 for the same.

Free cash flow is predicted to be $950 million-$1.05 billion (unchanged).

Our Take

LabCorp exited the fourth quarter of 209 on a strong note, with better-than-expected results. While increasing acquisitions and a favorable mix contributed to its Diagnostics business in the quarter, the disposition of certain businesses and the implementation of PAMA dented growth.

Also, Covance Drug Development delivered year-over-year growth. However, synergies from acquisitions and organic growth were partially negated by the impact of foreign currency translation.

Zacks Rank

LabCorp currently has a Zacks Rank of 4 (Sell).

Earnings of Other MedTech Majors at a Glance

Some better-ranked stocks, which reported solid results this earnings season, are Stryker Corporation SYK, Accuray Incorporated ARAY and AmerisourceBergen ABC. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Stryker delivered fourth-quarter 2019 adjusted EPS of $2.49, outpacing the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 1.2%. Revenues of $4.13 billion surpassed the consensus mark by 0.7%. The company carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

Accuray reported second-quarter fiscal 2020 adjusted EPS of a penny versus the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss of 7 cents. Net revenues of $98.8 million outpaced the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 0.3%. The company sports a Zacks Rank #1.

AmerisourceBergen reported first-quarter fiscal 2020 adjusted EPS of $1.76, which beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.67 by 5.4%. The company, carrying a Zacks Rank #2, has an expected long-term earnings growth rate of 7.4%.

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