Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Rival's bad news affects Chemed



By Mike Boyer
Enquirer staff writer

Shares of Chemed Corp. closed lower Monday, despite the company issuing higher earnings guidance, after a rival said it was facing a Justice Department probe and would post lower-than-expected third-quarter results.

Chemed, the owner of hospice provider Vitas Healthcare and Roto-Rooter plumbing services, expects to exceed third-quarter earnings forecasts of 56 to 60 cents a share and was raising its fourth-quarter outlook of 68 to 72 cents a share.

Despite that, Chemed's shares closed down Monday at $56.05, off 88 cents.

Investors were apparently reacting to news that hospice rival Odyssey Healthcare Inc.'s earnings would fall short in the third quarter and that it was the subject of a Justice Department billing probe. Odyssey's shares plunged 47 percent Monday, closing at $8.96.

Concerns about the hospice industry "appear to be company specific and not reflective of Vitas," Chemed CEO Kevin McNamara said.

E-mail mboyer@enquirer.com




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