Fresenius Medical Care AG & Co. KGAA
), through its Fresenius Medical Care North America unit, is
recommending dialysis patients residing in the U.S. to receive
flu shots as a preventive measure.
This positive piece of news highlights the company's ability
to deliver high-quality care through innovative programs and
technology, and should thus boost investor confidence in the
stock. However, the company's stock returned a negative 6.2% to
its investors on a year-to-date basis.
As part of its UltraCare mission, FMS will distribute free
vaccinations to all its dialysis patients and staff to protect
them against both seasonal flu and H1N1 swine flu. Dialysis
patients are more prone to acquiring flu owing to their weak
immunity system resulting from kidney failure. Thus, the company
deems it necessary to encourage such patients to take the flu
shot. Flu can lead to major complications, such as pneumonia, in
the case of kidney failure patients, and can even lead to fatal
Early cases of influenza have already started showing signs in
the U.S. About 60 million Americans acquire flu every year, with
infections peaking during the winter months. The Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises yearly flu shots for
everyone above the age of 6. Moreover, they highly recommend it
for patients on dialysis.
The company's principal competitor in the U.S. is
DaVita HealthCare Partners Inc.
), which provides dialysis services for patients suffering from
chronic kidney failure or End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD).
Fresenius Medical Care also competes with
Baxter International Inc.
) in certain niches such as peritoneal dialysis products.
Recently, FMS acquired 43 hospitals from Rhoen-Klinikum AG.
Fresenius' acquisition of hospitals from this private health-care
provider by its Helios unit is expected to make the company the
largest private hospital operator in Europe. Post-acquisition,
Fresenius SA will operate 117 hospitals across the
However, Moody's Investors Service, the credit rating arm of
), has changed its outlook on FMS from positive to negative due
to the increase in leverage following the acquisition. The
outlook has been downgraded despite the fact that the acquisition
will lead to improved coverage of Fresenius SE hospitals across
Currently, Fresenius carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).
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