Hospital Operator HCA's Second-Quarter Profit Rises 8.2 Percent


NASHVILLE (AP) HCA Holdings Inc.'s second-quarter earnings climbed more than 8 percent, as the largest U.S. hospital chain saw admissions climb at its established locations and reaped more revenue out of each admission.

The Nashville, Tenn., company, which previewed its results earlier this month, said Thursday that it earned $423 million, or 91 cents per share, in the three months that ended June 30, up from $391 million, or 85 cents per share, a year ago,

Revenue climbed 4.2 percent to $8.45 billion counting the company's provision for doubtful accounts, or funds set aside for patients who are unlikely to pay their bills.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected, on average, earnings of 82 cents per share on $8.44 billion in revenue.

HCA operated 161 hospitals and 114 freestanding surgery centers at the end of June. It said equivalent admissions at locations opened at least a year climbed 1.1 percent in the quarter, while revenue per equivalent admission rose nearly 3 percent.

Equivalent admissions includes both inpatient admissions and outpatient procedures. HCA and other hospital operators have been struggling with weak admissions, as patients continue to cut back on their use of the health care system, a trend that started a few years ago during the Great Recession.

HCA also recorded a $4 million gain on the sale of facilities in this year's quarter compared to a $2 million loss last year.

The company again reaffirmed a 2013 earnings and revenue forecast it first made in February. It still expects adjusted earnings to range between $3 and $3.30 per share on revenue of between $33.5 billion and $34.5 billion.

Analysts expect, on average, earnings of $3.16 per share on $33.96 billion in revenue.

The hospital operator announced Monday that Chairman and CEO Richard M. Bracken, 60, will retire as CEO at the end of the year, and Chief Financial Officer R. Milton Johnson will replace him. HCA will look for candidates internally to replace Johnson as CFO.

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