Life Time Fitness Inc. shares jumped 7 percent Thursday largely because the company's first-quarter earnings results showed the health club chain was able to keep more customers without having to discount prices.
Life Time beat Wall Street profit expectations by 2 cents a share, earning $28.1 million, or 67 cents a share, on revenue of $290.7 million. Analysts had expected earnings of 65 cents on revenue of $287.1 million.
The stock closed Thursday at $45.98, up $3.04, or 7 percent, after shooting up 10 percent in morning trading.
Analysts were relieved after worrying that the results would be hurt by customer attrition and price-discounting, said Kurt Frederick, an analyst at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles. The company performed better than expected in both categories, he said.
"Life Time's first-quarter membership numbers were pretty good, and now they have new clubs coming into service later in the year that will help drive membership going forward," Frederick said. "So analysts are more comfortable with the Life Time Fitness story than they were before."
First-quarter earnings rose 9 percent, and revenue increased 8 percent. Operating expenses also rose 8 percent.
CEO Bahram Akradi said Life Time is positioned "for long-term growth and success."
The company raised its earnings and revenue ranges for 2013, but raised only the lower range of the estimate, leaving the higher end of the range the same.
"They're guiding down on the future quarters," Frederick said. "At least that's how Wall Street looks at it."
Life Time said it expects 2013 earnings to range from $121 million to $124 million, or up 8.5 to 11 percent, "driven by revenue growth and cost efficiencies." The low end of the range was $120 million.
The company said earnings per share are expected to range from $2.87 to $2.95. The low end previously was $2.85 per share. Analysts have been expecting 2013 earnings of $2.89 per share. Life Time said revenue for 2013 is expected to range from $1.205 billion to $1.22 billion, up 7 to 8 percent. The low end of the range previously was $1.2 billion. Analysts have been anticipating revenue of $1.21 billion.
While Life Time is a high-visibility consumer business, it can't be considered a bellwether for the economy because it has facilities in only about half the states, Frederick said. Also, Life Time represents the high end of the health club market, with an average monthly fee of about $90 to $100.