Lifetime Fitness Earnings Highlights

Life Time’s fourth-quarter EPS rose 13%, to $0.63, ahead of our and the consensus estimates of $0.62 and at the high end of management’s implied guidance of $0.61 to $0.63, although the upside versus consensus expectations came courtesy of a $0.015 benefit from a lower-than-expected tax rate.

Membership trends were once again shy of expectations, with membership growth of 0.3%, to 789,500, worse than the projection for a 1% to 2% increase and marking a deceleration from 0.7% growth in the third quarter, with all the growth coming from non-access memberships, as access memberships declined for the first time in the company’s publicly traded history (down 0.6%). Attrition was also slightly more elevated than we had projected at 9.8% in the quarter (versus our projection for 9.7%), yielding 12-month trailing attrition of 35.8%—up from 33.5% in 2012.

Revenue growth was within management’s target but slightly shy of consensus expectations, up 6%, to $291 million, versus consensus of $294 million. Per-member in-center revenues rose 7.6%, roughly in line with the projection for 7%; same-club sales rose 3.6%, again similar to our 4% projection.

Management’s first look at 2014 calls for revenue growth of 8.0% to 9.5%, to $1.30 billion to $1.32 billion, encompassing consensus of $1.316 billion and marking an acceleration from 7% growth in 2013, although short of management’s long-term plan to drive double-digit revenue growth. EPS are anticipated at $3.05 to $3.15, representing net income growth of 3% to 7% and encompassing consensus of $3.12 and our prior estimate of $3.05, including flattish to slightly positive growth in the first half of the year.