Snyder Communications Inc., the Bethesda marketing conglomerate that acquired more than a dozen companies in a three-year spurt, is now dividing itself in two in hopes of giving investors a clearer picture of what it does.

Snyder, headed by Washington Redskins principal owner Dan Snyder, said yesterday that it will spin off its health-care marketing operations to shareholders this fall, creating a new, publicly traded company, Snyder Healthcare Services Inc.

The move is aimed at countering investor confusion about whether to evaluate Snyder Communications as a health-care firm, an advertising and marketing company, or some combination of both, Snyder said.

Uncertainty about how well the various pieces of Snyder Communications are meshing has undercut its stock price, which closed yesterday at $28.62 1/2, up $1 on the New York Stock Exchange, but still far below its 52-week high of $50 a share last July.

"The bottom line," said analyst Amy Brodsky of Vector Securities International, is that "they didn't have a home."

The new company, whose main business will be selling products for major pharmaceutical firms, will combine Snyder operations that had $321.5 million in revenue last year, with more than $42.6 million in pretax net income, not counting non-recurring acquisition charges, the company said.

Eran Broshy, former head of the Boston Consulting Group's health-care services, will be chief executive of the new company, and Snyder will be its chairman.

Together, Snyder, his sister Michele, and longtime partners Mortimer Zuckerman and Fred Drasner owned or controlled 28 percent of Snyder stock as of this spring's proxy statement and, like other Snyder Communications shareholders, will receive shares in the new company proportional to their holdings in the parent company. The preliminary plan is to distribute one share of the new stock for every two shares of Snyder Communications held by investors.

The company also plans to issue a new class of stock that will track the performance of its Circle.com agency, which provides Internet-based marketing services to clients. That distribution is expected in the second half of this year.

Snyder Communications will retain the company's direct-marketing, advertising and Internet-services businesses, which had $493.8 million in revenue in 1998 and $76.3 million in pretax net income.

There is a risk that some investors will be less interested in the two parts of Snyder than they were in the current company, which is approaching $1 billion in annual revenue, Brodsky said. But she expects that risk will be more than offset by the potential gain if health-care services investors get a clear picture of the new company and marketing and advertising investors can focus just on those parts of the company.

It also may be easier to deal with skeptics' view that Snyder's expansion has come mainly from acquisitions, not internal growth, she said.

Direct marketers are trading at about 20 times next year's expected earnings and health-care services are at about 18 times earnings, Brodsky said.

"Snyder is trading at 15 times -- not even an average of the two," she said.