Hospital shares rise as Irma damage lighter than feared

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks of U.S. hospital companies rose on Monday as damage from Hurricane Irma in Florida appeared to be lighter than feared.

Shares of Tenet Healthcare Corp THC.N rose 3.9 percent, Community Health Systems Inc CYH.N shares were up 2.8 percent, Envision Healthcare Corp EVHC.N rose 1.7 percent and HCA Health shares were up 1.4 percent in morning trading.

“It doesn’t look like the worst-case scenario,” said KeyBanc Capital Markets analyst Jason Gurda. “Our expectation is at this point that they’ll be open and accepting patients sometime over the next few days,” he said.

Leerink analyst Ana Gupte last week forecast the storm could hurt earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization industry wide by as much as 2.7 percent in the quarter. She said in an email on Monday that it appears the impact will be less than that.

Irma hit Florida on Sunday morning as a dangerous Category 4 hurricane, the second-highest level on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale.

The storm did some $20 billion to $40 billion in damage to insured property as it tore through Florida, before losing strength and weakening to a tropical storm by Monday morning.

Reporting by Michael Erman