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On November 8, Bill Simpson wrote an analysis of Virtual Radiologic (VRAD). The company priced its initial public offering of 4 million common shares mid-range at $17 on November 15. The stock closed January 11 at $18.17.

The text of Mr. Simpson's original writeup follows:

• • •

Virtual Radiologic plans on offering 4.6 million shares (assuming over-allotments) at a range of $16-$18. Goldman Sachs is leading the deal, Merrill Lynch and William Blair co-managing. Post-ipo VRAD will have 16.4 million shares outstanding for a market cap of $279 million on a pricing of $17. Approximately 50% of ipo proceeds will be used to redeem debt, the remainder for general corporate purposes.

President and CEO Sean Casey will own 25% of VRAD post ipo.

From the prospectus:

We believe we are one of the leading providers of remote diagnostic image interpretation, or teleradiology, services in the United States. According to Frost & Sullivan, we are the second largest provider of teleradiology services in the United States.

The leader in this space is 2006 ipo, Nighthawk (NHWK).

VRAD provides remote diagnostic image interpretations, or reads, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Customers include radiology practices, hospitals, clinics and diagnostic imaging centers. The differentiator with VRAD compared to NHWK appears to be that VRAD's radiologists can work remotely from anywhere in the US, while NHWK's US staff is all located at their facility in Idaho.

Digital diagnostic imaging is expected to grow 15% annually over the next three years. 500 million procedures are expected by 2009. Sector is being driven by an aging population, advances in diagnostic imaging technologies and the growing availability of imaging equipment in hospitals and clinics, as well as by more frequent physician referrals for diagnostic imaging. However the projected number of radiologists is expected to grow just 2% annually in the US. The slower pace of radiologist growth coupled with the 24/7 365 demand has pushed hospitals/clinics to outsource some of their radiologist needs.

VRAD has affiliations with 121 radiologists. Reads include computed tomography, or CT scans, magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, and ultrasound. VRAD is compensated directly by their customers and does not directly depend on third party reimbursement. VRAD has provided services to 457 customers serving 787 medical facilities, which includes 736 hospitals, representing approximately 13% of hospitals in the United States. 98% of contracts up for renewal have been renewed.

Same site sales growth has been a strong indication that once VRAD sells in their remote radiology services, the revenue stream per location grows. Same site growth for 2005 was 24%, 2006 was 20% and through first nine months of 2007 17%.

Legal - In 7/07 Merge eMed filed a patent infringement suit against VRAD. The suit claims VRAD infringed on Merge eMed's teleradiology patent.

Financials

$2 per share in cash post-ipo, no debt.

Revenues have grown swiftly as VRAD has added new radiologists, sites and grown revenues in existing sites. Revenues in 2005 were $27 million, doubling to $54 million in 2006 and through first nine months of 2007 on pace for $90 million.

Eight straight quarters of sequential revenue growth. VRAD shifted into profitability in 2006.

2007 - Note that due directly to the fast rise in fair value of VRAD, they've booked pretty hefty stock compensation expenses in 2006/2007. VRAD does not have excessive options and this line will fall significantly post-ipo. I've smoothed out stock compensation expense a bit for 2007 numbers as if they were a public company at IPO price for all of 2007. Revenues on track for $90 million, a 67% increase over 2006. The largest expense line is physician cash expenses at 45%. As this is an operation that depends entirely on their physician radiologists, this expense line will always be significant at the 45% level of revenues. Operating margins which have been increasing annually should be 14%. Net margins should be 9%. Earnings per share of approximately $0.50. On a pricing of $17, VRAD would trade 34 X's 2007 earnings.

2008 - VRAD has shown an ability to grow revenues sequentially, I don't see why that should halt in 2008. If we assume conservative sequential quarterly growth through 2008, I would not be surprised to see VRAD hit $120-$125 million in revenues. This would be a 36% increase over 2007 and might be a tad conservative as VRAD has increased revenues 100% and 67% in '06 and '07 respectively. Still, I'd rather be conservative when forecasting. Operating margins should improve a bit as VRAD gets some economies of scale on SGA if not on physician radiologist cash expenses. At 16% operating margins, VRAD should earn $0.75 - $0.80. On a pricing of $17, VRAD would trade 22 X's 2008 estimates.

A Quick Look at NHWK and VRAD

NHWK - $664 million market cap. Trading 4.3 X's '07 revenues and 23 X's 2007 earnings with a 67% revenues growth rate in 2007. NHWK currently expecting a 40% growth rate in 2008 and trades 17 X's 2008 earnings.

VRAD - $279 million market cap at $17. Would trade 3 X's '07 revenues and 34 X's '07 earnings with a 67% revenue growth rate in 2007. VRAD conservatively should have a 36% revenue increase in 2008 and would trade 22 X's conservative 2008 estimates.

VRAD should book $125 in 2008 revenues compared to NHWK's $215. Both are solid operations filling an obviously desired/needed niche. I write obviously as the revenue growth for each has been been quick and fast. NHWK ipo'd in 2/06 at a $387 million market cap with an expected $0.50 in earnings and $90 million in revenues, exactly what VRAD will hit in 2007.

VRAD is a recommend here. IPO here looks like a 'junior NHWK' except at a $100 million lower market cap in range than NHWK priced 18 months ago. I'd expect VRAD to follow a very similar path as NHWK and grow market cap into the $600 million range two years after ipo. Solid recommend in range.

Source: Virtual Radiologic IPO Analysis: Solid Operation in Needed Niche