Why the Primary Health Care Limited (ASX:PRY) share price stormed over 7% higher today

One of the best performers on the ASX 200 this morning has been the Primary Health Care Limited (ASX: PRY) share price.

In early trade the healthcare company’s shares are up 7.5% to $2.55 on the day of its annual general meeting.

Why are Primary Health Care’s shares storming higher today?

Ahead of its annual general meeting Primary Health Care released its presentation to the market.

As well as the usual review of the last financial year, it included an update on the company’s performance so far in FY 2019.

And as you might have guessed from the share price reaction, the company has had a positive start to the year.

According to CEO and managing director, Dr Malcolm Parmenter, the company’s “results to‐date have been in line with expectations.”

After a soft first quarter due to the benign flu season, Primary Health Care has started to see volumes moving back up towards normal levels.

Dr Parmenter also advised that GP recruitment for its Medical Centres was over 30% ahead of last year in quarter one with a strong pipeline. Importantly, the age of GPs the company is recruiting is significantly lower than its existing cohort.

Another positive is that the Medical Centres business has seen an overall increase in gross billings per hour for the centres that have gone through its process efficiency and online appointment programs.

Pleasingly, management is confident that things are going to continue to improve in the near term. It expects trading in the second half to be stronger than the first half in all its divisions.

In light of this, management has reiterated its previous full year underlying net profit after tax guidance to be at or above $100 million. This represents growth of approximately 8.3% on FY 2018’s underlying result.

Should you invest?

I thought that this was a solid update from Primary Health Care and far better than I expected. However, a lot is resting on the company delivering on its promise of a stronger second half.

Because of this, it’s a little early for me to jump in, but I’ll be keeping a close eye on its performance. In the meantime, healthcare shares such as Cochlear Limited (ASX: COH) and CSL Limited (ASX: CSL) could be worth a look after recent pullbacks.

Alternatively, these buy-rated dividend shares could be even better options for investors right now.

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Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Cochlear Ltd. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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