The Allscripts Coup

| About: Allscripts Healthcare (MDRX)

I was suspicious of Allscripts (NASDAQ:MDRX) long before they dumped CEO Glen Tullman yesterday.

The software as a service, or SaaS-based, health IT vendor was always suspiciously close to the Obama Administration, it seemed to me, and Tullman was briefly on the committee that eventually came up with the "meaningful use" standards that have helped dole out that sweet, sweet stimulus cash to the industry. The cash was based on a series of escalating capabilities, that must be fully realized by fiscal 2015 in order for companies to collect. After 2015, hospitals and clinics that have not automated will see reimbursement rates cut, so there's a stick to go along with the carrot.

Tullman finally retreated from the political fray, and the strangest part of the whole corporate history was his agreement to buy Misys' health care operations, along with those of rival Eclypsis, in 2010, hence the strange ticker symbol.

That deal never made sense to me. Allscripts was selling SaaS, Misys was pushing an open source story, Eclypsis was more like Cerner. And from what experts told me none really had a system that worked very well. The merger should be counted as a huge failure.

Now it's all unraveled, with Tullman out as he was seeking to take the company private, replaced by a former Cerner (NASDAQ:CERN) executive, Paul Black.

Cerner, however, is known for selling client-server systems based on Microsoft Windows, not SaaS services. SaaS, on the other hand, was always seen as advantaged in the final standards, since adjustments could be made to every customer's system at once.

Still, Cerner simply put its head down and went back to the basic blocking-and-tackling upgrade cycle it had always used, with the same sales-oriented management team leading the way. The two stocks seemed to be moving in lock-step through the middle of 2010, but since then CERN has doubled in value while MDRX is now worth less than half what it was.

In the end, MDRX became what computer nerds call a "kludge," a collection of mismatched pieces that didn't work as a system. This is true of both the software and the organization, which never meshed after the Misys acquisition.

There is a lesson to be learned here, and it's an old one. Having just a vision's no solution, everything depends on execution. Tullman had a vision but failed to execute. Hopefully, under Black there will be some execution, or at least an acquisition at a higher valuation than MDRX is currently stuck with.

If I were of a speculative nature, I would buy MDRX here, at its bottom, and see what magic Black can pull out of his hat. I see CERN as fully valued, but it has proven to be a solid company.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.