In a note to investors earlier today research firm Imperial Capital wrote that LifePoint Hospitals (LPNT) could be taken private through a leveraged buyout, or LBO. In such a scenario the acquisition price could be 42% above the stock's current value, Imperial believes. LifePoint's underleveraged balance sheet and defensive business model could make it attractive to private equity firms, suggested Imperial, which initiated coverage of the stock with an Outperform rating and $53 price target. Even if an acquisition doesn't materialize, Imperial believes that LifePoint's stock will advance, as the firm expects the company to make additional attractive acquisitions funded by debt. Barclays, another research firm, took a less optimistic view of LifePoint last night when it initiated coverage of the stock with its lowest equity rating Underweight. In mid-morning trading, LifePoint inched up 0.14% to $41.66.