Feb 4 HCA Holdings Inc, the largest U.S.
hospital operator, said on Tuesday that fourth-quarter earnings
rose from a year ago as it generated more revenue from patients
despite a decline in admissions to its facilities.
U.S. hospitals have seen admissions decline during the
economic downturn as people who lacked health insurance or faced
higher out-of-pocket expenses avoided seeking medical care. The
health reform law and its insurance exchanges are expected to
benefit the industry this year by expanding insurance
availability to more patients.
HCA said it expects a benefit from the health reform law in
2014 of about 1 to 2 percent of its adjusted earnings before
interest, tax, depreciation and amortization.
In the fourth quarter, net income was $424 million, or 92
cents a share, compared with $314 million, or 68 cents a share,
a year ago. Revenue increased 4.8 percent to $8.84 billion.
Analysts on average had expected earnings of 86 cents a
share on revenue of $8.83 billion, according to Thomson Reuters
HCA said fewer patients were admitted for pulmonary
treatments and short stays in the fourth quarter compared with
last year, when the flu season was more severe. But revenue per
admission increased 4.6 percent.
The company forecast 2014 earnings excluding special items
in a range of $3.45 to $3.75 a share on revenue of $35.5 billion
to $36.5 billion.
HCA shares rose about 3 percent to $49.96 in early trading
on the New York Stock Exchange.