- NOTHING HAS REALLY CHANGED: The only material positive news from the 3Q14 earnings call was that IFP commission rates are expected to remain the same in 2015; pushing back an inevitable downside catalyst to 2016 at the earliest. But the same risks that crippled the business in 2014 remain into 2015. EHTH still has limited connectivity with the public exchanges (a requisite to selling subsidized plans), which means EHTH may not have the ability to drive enough new account growth to offset its churning IFP members. All things considered, the setup hasn't changed much from 2014; EHTH could see another down year in IFP membership next year.
- BUT WE'RE OUT OF CATALYSTS UNTIL 1Q15: Open Enrollment runs from 11/15/14-2/15/14. EHTH will not really know what 2015 will look like until 1) it starts collecting premiums on its new members, and 2) it knows how many of its current members have churned. The company will issue its 2015 guidance before that occurs, which means that can go either way since it won't really understand its 2015 prospects until its 1Q15 earnings release. Until then, remaining short could expose us to near-term bullish catalysts on immaterial events (e.g. random news flow similar to last year). Given that the stock is up following cautiously optimistic management commentary for 2015, we would rather book the gain and get out of the way...for now.
Let us know if you have any questions or would like to discuss in more detail.
Hesham Shaaban, CFA