MENU

Sonic shock

Pathology and medical diagnostic services company, Sonic Healthcare Limited (ASX: SHL) has reported a 5% increase in net profit for the six months to December 2012, to $151 million. That comes on the back of a 3.4% rise in revenues to $1.73 billion, compared to the previous period. The high Australian dollar impacted revenues to the tune of $36 million – which is not all that much as a percentage of total revenues.

Earnings per share came in at 39.5 cents, a 4.4% rise over the previous year. Sonic increased the interim dividend by 1 cent to 25 cents, partly-franked.

While that all appears to be a fair to decent result, investors weren’t happy, sending the shares down over 7% in early morning trade.

And it wasn’t hard to figure out why.

Sonic downgraded its full year forecast, expecting growth in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and appreciation (EBITDA), to come in at the lower end of its previous guidance of 5-10%. Growth in the US has been much lower than expected, falling 2.1% on a constant currency basis, impacted by Superstorm Sandy, unexpected Medicare fee cuts and the weak economic environment. In Europe, several customers have short paid the company to the tune of €16 million, and Sonic is pursuing recovery of these.

Like other operators in the highly regulated healthcare space such as Ramsay Health Care Limited (ASX: RHC), Primary Health Care Limited (ASX: PRY) and Sigma Pharaceuticals Limited (ASX: SIP), Sonic’s revenues and earnings depend on government policies to a large extent. When these change, as in the US and Germany recently, earnings can take a hit.

Foolish investors need to bear that in mind when considering an investment in this sector.

The Australian Financial Review says “good quality Australian shares that have a long history of paying dividends are a real alternative to a term deposit.” Get “3 Stocks for the Great Dividend Boom” in our special FREE report. Click here now to find out the names, stock symbols, and full research for our three favourite income ideas, all completely free!

More reading

The Motley Fool’s purpose is to help the world invest, better.  Click here now  for your free subscription to Take Stock, The Motley Fool’s free investing newsletter. Packed with stock ideas and investing advice, it is essential reading for anyone looking to build and grow their wealth in the years ahead.  This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson. Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King doesn’t own shares in any companies mentioned.

The 5 mining stocks we’re recommending in 2019…

For decades, Australian mining companies have minted money for individual investors like you and me. But if you believe the pundits and talking heads on TV, those days are long gone. Finito! Behind us forever…

We say nothing could be further from the truth. To earn the really massive returns, you’ve got to fish where others aren’t fishing—and the mining sector could be primed for a resurgence. That’s why top Motley Fool analysts just revealed their exciting new research on 5 ASX miners they believe could help you profit in 2019 and beyond…

Including:

The best way we see to play the global zinc shortage… Our #1 favourite large-cap miner (hint: it’s not BHP)… one early-stage gold miner we think could hit the motherlode… Plus two more surprising companies you probably haven’t heard of yet!

For free access to our brand-new research, simply click here or the link below. But be warned, this research is available free for a limited time only, and we reserve the right to withdraw it at any time.

Click here for your FREE report!