Shares in WebMD Health Corp. (NASDAQ:WBMD) are trending strongly upward on Friday morning trading after the firm released positive guidance for the first quarter of 2013. The optimism comes in spite of a reported loss in the fourth quarter of 2012. The company has been invested in by Carl Icahn among others.
In an earnings report released on Thursday after the market closed, WebMD Health Corp. (NASDAQ:WBMD) revealed that it had lost 8 cents per share in the three months ending December 31. Analysts were expecting a loss along of 4 cents by consensus. Revenue at the online medical advice service surprised analysts, however.
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Revenue for the last three months of 2012 came in at $132.7 million. Analysts were expecting something in the region of $124 million. The revenue surprise appears to have been one of the subjects most considered by traders buying the shares strongly this morning.
Carl Icahn, the veteran hedge fund manager, has been a proponent of WebMD Health Corp. (NASDAQ:WBMD) since 2011, beginning what appeared to be an activist run last June. Icahn raised his stake in the company, buying shares in the last quarter of 2011 and buying more in the first quarter of 2012. His stake is now estimated at around 6.7 million shares, worth about $134 million at today’s prices.
One of the real positives from the earnings report was the WebMD guidance for the year to come. The firm said it expects to lose between 13 cents per share and 45 cents, compared to a loss of 40 cents per share in 2012. Revenue, again the highlight for investors, is expected to come in at between $430 and $455 million. Revenue in 2012 came in at $469.9 million.
Analysts estimating before the release of this guidance reached a consensus 2013 estimate of $418 million in revenue, and a loss of 29 cents per share. The company’s guidance is still in line with its earnings figures, but the revenue estimates suggest a major stabilization in the coming year.
In 2011 the company managed to earn 89 cents per share, and earned 98 cents per share in 2012. The last year has been marked by a sharp decline in revenue, and earnings. 2012 revenue came in at $469 million. The full year 2011 saw the company take in $559 million.
WebMD Health Corp. (NASDAQ:WBMD) shares have gained strongly so far in 2013, though most of those gains came in today’s trading. The firm’s shares have increased by more than 28% since January 1. In the last twelve months, however, the firm’s shares have tumbled by more than 20% in total.