Some Hot Health IT Stocks Are CoolingSome Hot Health IT Stocks Are Cooling
Street.com just released a list of "best and worst" healthcare IT stocks. You'd think with all the stimulus money being waved at healthcare providers to install e-health record systems over the next few years, all health IT stocks would be winners.
February 9, 2010
Street.com just released a list of "best and worst" healthcare IT stocks. You'd think with all the stimulus money being waved at healthcare providers to install e-health record systems over the next few years, all health IT stocks would be winners.For starters, just opening up my 401k statements makes me sweat, so on a day to day basis, I don't pay much attention to the ups and downs of any individual stocks, and that includes healthcare IT stocks.
But with that said, the Street.com list had some interesting observations. Among them was the fact that January brought some big hits to several healthcare IT stocks, with double-digit declines in share price percentages. For instance, EMR vendor Athenahealth had a 12% decline in January--and a recent accounting change will likely bring the stock down further as analysts lower the earnings estimates for the company, according to Street.com. Another EMR vendor taking a hit was Allscripts-Misys, which has been on a downward trend lately since disclosing lower-than-expected booking for its fiscal second quarter. Even Cerner, which has been a darling health IT stock in 2009, was down last month. So, what's going on? Healthcare reform for months had been scaring many investors of healthcare stocks in general, especially with uncertainty about what specific changes (like a new government run program) might actually get signed into law. In contrast, the passage last Feburary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's $20 billion-plus health IT stimulus program was already on the books, a sure thing. So, for most of 2009, health IT stocks looked like the safest healthcare bet. But with any major healthcare reform legislation looking more and more doubtful (at least right now), investors seem to stepping back and taking a closer look at some of their other healthcare related holdings--including health IT stocks. The problem seems to be this: There's still a lot of anticipation about how healthcare providers will be opening up their wallets for new e-health record systems in order for them to take advantage of the federal rewards that start kicking in 2011. However, healthcare providers still need to figure out how to fund these projects while they wait for their stimulus checks. Doctors and hospitals are wondering about the still-not-yet finalized meaningful use criteria they'll have to meet, and are still not sure whether healthcare reform will happen, and what the impact will be on them and their budgets. The big spending party for health IT seems to keep getting rain delayed. And that's making some health IT stocks look a bit gloomy.
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