Speaking on the sidelines of the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco, CFO Bill Rutherford noted that the hospitals operators is open to acquisitions, and plans to evaluate two to three purchases this year. He added that the healthcare services company would look at purchases particularly for ambulatory care facilities and physicians practices.
"We are looking for size — large systems, often not-for-profit," Rutherford said, declining to give a timeframe for any acquisitions. "The pathway is long."
During HCA's presentation at the conference, CEO Milton Johnson noted that the company has acquired 15 hospitals since 2011, adding 3900 beds to the operator's ranks. He added that a goal of the company is to "expand in the markets we serve, leverage our scale and sustain consistent growth."
According to the Nashville, Tenn.-based company's website, HCA currently has 165 hospitals and 115 freestanding surgical facilities in 20 states in the United States as well as England. HCA has a market cap of $32.15 billion. As of its third quarter earnings report in late October, HCA had $515 million in cash on hand.
Recently HCA was on the losing side of a deal to purchase Kansas City, Mo.-based not-for-profit Carondelete Health, due to antitrust issues that arose with the Federal Trade Commission. The health system was later sold to Prime Healthcare, a California-based company that has been purchasing often-troubled not-for-profit hospitals such as the Daughter of Charity Health System in California.
In addition to acquiring hospitals, Johnson said that the company has grown in the urgent care space after acquiring Texas-based CareNow, adding 24 urgent care centers to its coffers. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
He noted that if the company was not able to find a suitable acquisition, HCA would return cash to shareholders as part of its capital deployment plan. The company had announced a $1 billion share buyback program when its last quarterly earnings.
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