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LifePoint CFO Out

The hospital operator's earnings come in slightly below expectations.

LifePoint Hospitals


CFO Michael Culotta has abruptly resigned.

The company gave no reason for Culotta's departure when it reported a drop in first-quarter profit on Thursday.

"Nothing ever good happens after a CFO leaves," said Sheryl Skolnick, senior vice president of CRT Capital Group. And "this was one of the best CFOs in the hospital business -- bar none."

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Skolnick said CEO William Carpenter was "untested" with less than a year at the helm.

Still, Skolnick saw nothing in LifePoint's first-quarter report to signal any danger.

"The earnings look fine," said Skolnick, who has a fair-value rating on the company's stock. "But I don't really care. ... This is very distressing."

Actually, many analysts had hoped for better results from the company. LifePoint's first-quarter revenue increased 14% to $669 million, missing Wall Street expectations, while net income plummeted 22% to $29.8 million. Operating profit of 61 cents a share came up 2 cents shy of the consensus estimate.

"Our strategy of investing in our communities continues to help us generate excellent financial results for the company and stronger relationships in our markets," Carpenter stated. "We believe that our unrelenting focus on providing value to the communities in which we operate, combined with the implementation of our company-wide strategic initiatives, will not only benefit our company and our communities but will enhance shareholder value for the long term."

LifePoint's stock was unchanged at $38.03 in after-hours trading.