* EPS ex-items 94 cents vs Street view 76 cents
* 2012 earnings forecast in line with analyst estimates
* Declares special dividend of $2 per share
* Shares rise 6 percent in early NYSE trading
Feb 6 HCA Holdings Inc, the
largest U.S. hospital operator, on Monday reported
better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings as it admitted more
patients to its facilities and recorded a one-time gain from an
investment, sending its shares up 6 percent.
A focus on controlling operating expenses and a reduction in
bad debts helped offset lower surgical volumes, the company
Cardiovascular surgery volumes were down for the third
consecutive quarter, though the rate of decline slowed, company
officials said on a conference call. Managed-care admissions,
which slumped during the economic downturn as workers lost jobs
and insurance, rose slightly for the second quarter in a row.
HCA also said its board approved a special dividend of $2
per share to be paid to shareholders in February.
"Overall, the results and outlook look very strong despite
the many moving parts this quarter," Oppenheimer & Co analyst
Michael Wiederhorn said in a note to clients.
HCA posted fourth-quarter net income of $1.94 billion, or
$4.25 per share, compared with $283 million, or 65 cents per
share, a year ago. Results for the 2011 quarter include gains
from facilities sales and the acquisition of a controlling stake
in HealthOne, a Denver-based hospital system joint venture.
Excluding the one-time gains, earnings were 94 cents per
Analysts, on average, had expected 76 cents per share,
according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Fourth-quarter revenue rose 8.5 percent to $7.77 billion.
Same facility-equivalent admissions increased 3.2 percent.
Nashville, Tennessee-based HCA forecast adjusted 2012
earnings per share of $3.35 to $3.55 on revenue of $32 billion
to $33 billion. The outlook anticipates strengthening demand for
in-patient services, continued strong demand for emergency
services and stable commercial insurance enrollment trends, the
Analysts, on average, are expecting 2012 earnings excluding
items of $3.46 per share and revenue of $35.10 billion.
HCA shares rose 6.1 percent to $28.08 in morning trading on
the New York Stock Exchange.