Helping Hands, Healthy Profits

Mediplex Group has been a big winner for CEO Abe Gosman. He took the operator of nursing homes, psychiatric hospitals, and rehabilitation and drug-abuse facilities public in 1983 with a market cap of $48 million. In 1986, Avon acquired Mediplex for $265 million. The company failed to live up to expectations, so Avon sold it back to Gosman in 1990--for just $40 million. He took it public again last year for a cool $140 million.

Mediplex has stayed profitable under Gosman, who sees even bigger sales and earnings over the next two years. His goal: Raise revenues from $200 million to $400 million by 1994. How? By doubling or maybe even tripling hospital and nursing-home accommodations for long-term Alzheimer patients and increasing facilities for short-term rehab patients, such as drug-abuse cases. Doing that will enable Mediplex to exceed the Street's earnings expectations, says Gosman. Analysts estimate earnings for 1992 at $1.45 a share and $1.75 for 1993.

Trading on the Big Board at 16, the stock is down from 20 just two months ago. Behind the decline is widespread skittishness about alleged abuses at the psychiatric hospitals of another major hospital management company. Analyst Peter Sidoti of the NatWest Investment Banking Group thinks Mediplex's low multiple is unjustified "given the company's bright earnings performance." Money manager Bill Anderson of Weiser Investments in Chicago says Mediplex is a well-managed health care company that's "significantly undervalued." Based on its earnings potential, he figures that it is worth 25 to 30 a share.

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