HCA Preliminary Profit Tops Estimates as Admissions Rise

HCA Holdings Inc., the largest for-profit U.S. hospital chain, released preliminary third-quarter earnings that beat analysts’ estimates on an increase in patient admissions. The shares gained in late trading.

Profit rose to 79 cents a share from 78 cents a year earlier, the Nashville, Tennessee-based company said today in a statement. Revenue jumped 4.9 percent to $8.46 billion as same facility admissions increased 0.7 percent. The average of analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg was for third-quarter profit of 71 cents a share and sales of $8.37 billion.

While other hospitals have been grappling with sluggish volume, HCA has been expected to post better admissions than its competitors, Brian Tanquilut, an analyst at Jefferies & Co. in Nashville said yesterday in an interview.

“They have set things up for a higher bar, they have expected positive numbers,” Tanquilut said.

HCA rose 4.9 percent to $49.72 at 4:31 p.m. New York time after closing at $47.38. The company said it expects to release a full earnings report on or about Nov. 5, according to the statement.

HCA oversees 162 hospitals and 113 freestanding outpatient surgery centers. The hospital industry has seen a slowdown in admissions growth and is being squeezed by a government overhaul of the U.S. health system that is trying to improve patient care and curb costs.

HCA bucked that trend with same facility admissions for the third quarter increasing 0.7 percent and same facility equivalent admissions jumping 1.1. percent.

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