* CFO R. Milton Johnson named to the CEO role
* Company conducting internal search for new CFO
* Shares little changed after hours
By Susan Kelly
July 29 HCA Holdings Inc, the largest
for-profit U.S. hospital operator, on Monday said Richard
Bracken would step down as chief executive by year-end and would
be replaced by R. Milton Johnson, who is currently chief
Bracken, 60, who joined HCA in 1981, will remain chairman of
HCA's board. He was named chairman and CEO in 2009, after
serving as president and chief operating officer of the
Nashville, Tennessee-based company.
HCA said it was conducting an internal search for a CFO to
succeed Johnson, a 31-year veteran of the company who was named
a board director in 2009. HCA said it would make an announcement
in the coming months.
UBS Investment Research analyst A.J. Rice said during
Bracken's tenure as a senior manager, the company enjoyed
substantial operating success, posting the strongest patient
volumes in the industry.
"In our view, the retirement is no reflection on near term
operating trends," Rice said in a note to clients.
HCA earlier this month reported an increase in patient
admissions to its hospitals in the second quarter, bucking the
general industry trend of declining volumes as people stay away
from the doctor due to lack of insurance or higher out-of-pocket
Under Bracken's leadership, HCA improved the quality of care
at its hospitals and is now poised to reap the benefits of
President Barack Obama's healthcare overhaul, said Sheryl
Skolnick, an analyst with CRT Capital Group.
"He's retiring on the heels of a strong quarter and on the
brink of significant potential earnings expansion from reform, a
time that seems fitting," Skolnick said.
Hospitals are expected to benefit from an influx of newly
insured patients under the health reform law, starting next
Johnson is a capable, seasoned executive ready to step into
the role of CEO, Skolnick said.
HCA shares were little changed in after-hours trading from a
close Monday of $39.05.