Last year’s flu season set records, both in terms of prevalence and severity. As the 2019 flu season kicks into gear, we leveraged Amenity Analytics’ text analytics platform in conjunction with weekly CDC data to provide critical context to corporate sentiment among healthcare providers. We explore what the data means for the 2019 flu season, how it compares to prior years and what companies were expecting.
Anecdotal news reports suggest the severity of the flu cases is lower than last year, but the data suggests the number of cases is not far off. The myopic comparison just to 2018 could provide a false perspective on an otherwise strong flu season. The chart below shows the number of outpatient visits due to flu-like symptoms compared to past flu seasons.
To assess corporate sentiment for the 2018 flu season we leveraged Amenity Viewer’s Query Insights feature to search earnings call transcripts related to the phrase “flu season,” and compared the results with the corporate outlook heading into this season’s peak. Citing tough comps from the record 2018 season, most companies set modest expectations for the 2019 season.
The results, as shown below, uncovered that a strong flu season is not universally positive across healthcare, as last year was a headwind for Managed Care (Centene) and Senior Living (Brookdale) providers:
Media coverage may suffer from recency bias in comparing the 2019 flu season to the record 2018, whereas the data suggests an above-average trend thus far. The setup may also be conducive to a positive surprise, as many companies took the opportunity to set expectations low due to tougher comps.
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This communication does not represent investment advice. Transcript text provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.
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