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Lincare shares slip after deal delay

Shares of Coram Healthcare Corp. and Lincare Holdings Inc. fell Friday, a day after Lincare applied the brakes to their $1-billion merger.

Lincare announced late Thursday that it would delay the deal until it has additional, unspecified information from Coram, its prospective acquirer.

Coram, a Denver-based company that provides medicine and equipment for people fed or medicated intravenously, agreed to acquire Lincare in a stock swap in April. But a 16 percent slide in its stock price since then has made the deal worth far less.

Lincare, based in Clearwater, provides oxygen equipment and respiratory services to patients in half of the nation's major metropolitan markets and in 35 states. The company is concerned about its prospects with Coram, an analyst said.

"As Lincare saw Coram's stock trading down, what they were getting had dropped 30 percent in the last two months," said Lawrence C. March, an analyst with the investment firm Wheat First Butcher Singer. "They also might think that Coram's business prospects aren't as good as they thought."

Lincare shares fell 56\ cents Friday to $27.18} on the news, which was announced after the markets closed Thursday. Coram shares fell $1.37}, or almost 7 percent, to $17.12}.

Coram was formed last year as a merger of four medical companies, specializing in home health care. It also purchased the intravenous drug business of Caremark International Inc. earlier this year.

Caremark last week agreed to pay $161-million in civil and criminal fines for paying kickbacks to doctors and defrauding government programs.

Coram said Thursday it will provide Lincare with the information it requested. Coram said it "hopes to alleviate any concerns that the Lincare board might have."

_ Staff writer Sarah Cohen contributed to this report.