HCA Guides Quarter Lower

It has weaker-than-expected admissions.
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HCA

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previewed a fairly wide first-quarter earnings miss Monday, as patient admissions at its hospitals didn't live up to expectations.

HCA expects to earn 89 cents to 93 cents a share in the quarter, including a net gain of 9 cents a share. Adjusted earnings of 80 cents to 84 cents a share would miss the Thomson First Call consensus estimate of 89 cents a share. The company put sales at $6.45 billion, in line with forecasts.

The culprit in the earnings shortfall is a 0.1% decline in same-facility equivalent admissions.

"Volumes were weaker than anticipated in certain markets, including those in Florida and Virginia. Flu-related pulmonary admissions decreased by approximately 5,000 admissions, or 10.5%, compared to the prior year's first quarter," HCA said. "During the quarter, inpatient surgeries grew 2.3% and outpatient surgeries increased 1% compared to the prior year's first quarter."

HCA said its provision for doubtful accounts is going to be $596 million in the quarter, roughly 9.3% of revenue, up from $574 million, or 9.3%, a year ago.

The stock closed at $45.11 Thursday, down 10% from the start of the year and about 14 times the Thomson First Call full-year consensus earnings estimate of $3.21 a share.