Tenet Healthcare ( THC) continues to be haunted by the aggressive pricing practices of its past, saying financial results in the second quarter and beyond will be below estimates, due in part to those pricing practices.

The Santa Barbara, Calif., hospital operator said based on the first two months of its second quarter, it expects earnings in the period to fall "significantly below" the 34-cent consensus earnings estimate. It expects combined third- and fourth-quarter earnings to be 40 cents to 50 cents a share; analysts were predicting a combined 70 cents: 33 cents a share in the third quarter and 37 cents in the fourth. It said the weakness will probably persist through the first half of 2004.

The estimate leaves out future impairment and restructuring charges and other negative items the company can't currently quantify, although it still "expects to incur such charges throughout 2003 and future periods."

"We are dealing with both industry issues and company-specific issues, most importantly past pricing practices that have placed the company in an especially difficult position," Tenet said. "We also are facing lower-than-expected revenue trends and increasing cost pressures."

The warning comes one month after the resignation of former CEO Jeff Barbakow, who oversaw the company during a period in which several government investigations were opened into the way it billed Medicare for certain procedures. Those procedures "are making it difficult for many of our hospitals to obtain managed care price increases at normal industry levels in 2003," it said in its release Monday.

Tenet shares were down $3.70, or 23%, to $12.61 on the Instinet premarket session.

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