Equifax Eyeballs Medical Records

Equifax (EFX) is big in the controversial but profitable business of providing businesses with consumer data for credit evaluation and insurance claims. Now, it's expanding into another lucrative field: supplying medical records and data about doctors to outfits such as HMOs and hospitals.

Equifax already helps determine applicants' risk categories for life and health insurance. Now, according to one money manager, it will provide health-care providers and insurers with hitherto-unavailable data on the ailment patterns among groups of people. The market for such information "will be huge, given the government's vow to cut health-care costs all around," says an Equifax insider.

Some pros say this yet-unexploited line could enhance the Equifax bottom line. "It gives Equifax a larger share of the booming information business," says Jack Sullivan of the San Francisco firm of Harris, Bretall, Sullivan & Smith, which manages $3 billion. "So we decided to put $50 million in Equifax," he says.

One Equifax insider estimates that this health-care venture alone could contribute about $300 million in revenues by 1996. In 1994, Equifax sales hit an estimated $1.4 billion, with earnings rising to about $1.60 a share, up from 1993's 85 cents. In 1995, revenues are expected to climb to $1.5 billion, producing earnings of $1.82 a share.

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