Bloomberg News

HCA Profit Falls as Hospital Operator Pays Down Debt

November 02, 2011

(Updates with closing share price in fifth paragraph.)

Nov. 1 (Bloomberg) -- HCA Holdings Inc., the biggest U.S. hospital operator, said third-quarter profit fell 75 percent after it spent money to pay down debt.

Net income dropped to $61 million, or 11 cents a share, from $243 million, or 55 cents, a year earlier, the Nashville, Tennessee-based company said in a statement. Revenue increased 5.3 percent to $8.05 billion, beating analysts’ estimates of $7.99 billion.

HCA, the product of an initial public offering that raised $3.79 billion on March 9, is facing cuts in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements as federal and state governments battle rising budget deficits. Medicare admissions grew 4.4 percent, reflecting an increase in medical cases and a decline in surgical cases compared with the prior year.

“There is a lot of pressure for this team to step up its game,” Art Henderson, an analyst at Jefferies & Co. in Nashville, Tennessee, said in a note before the earnings release. “If this doesn’t happen, there could be repercussions for the stock.”

HCA gained less than 1 percent to $23.50 at 4 p.m. New York time.

The company reiterated its forecast of 3 percent to 5 percent growth in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization for the full year. The figure doesn’t include the $1.45 billion buyout of the HCA-HealthOne joint venture from the Colorado Health Foundation in October.

Net income includes pretax losses on retirement of debt of $406 million, or 49 cents a share, the company said.

--Editors: Chris Staiti, Bruce Rule

To contact the reporter on this story: Pat Wechsler in New York at pwechsler@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reg Gale at rgale5@bloomberg.net.


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