HCA ( HCA) has left hospital investors bracing for a sick quarter from the group. The nation's largest for-profit hospital chain warned last week that operating results for both this year and next will fall well short of Wall Street expectations. The company continues to struggle with weak admissions and bad debt from the uninsured, problems only worsened by the violent hurricane season. It plans to ease the pain, however, with yet another gigantic share repurchase program like the one that led up to a long rally in the stock a year ago. Still, some experts believe that HCA will need a more powerful cure this time around. "We certainly got a case of deja vu," admitted Morgan Stanley analyst Gary Lieberman, who has an equal-weight rating on the company's stock. But "the difference this time is that HCA is much less likely to experience the same degree of (earnings) upside as it did in the beginning of 2005." Lieberman points to lasting hurricane damage and a recent jump in uninsured admissions -- the largest in more than a year -- when explaining his cautious stand. Of course, UBS analyst Kenneth Weakley has been expressing caution all along. Days before HCA's warning, in fact, Weakley predicted that the company would preannounce a shortfall -- along with another big stock repurchase plan -- as a result of hurricane-related losses and ongoing challenges for the industry. He insisted that weak volumes and "stubbornly high" bad-debt levels would continue to plague the group. Moreover, Weakley went on to challenge those who might disagree. He criticized the "endless tail-chasing" by some hospital analysts who still hunt for signs of a growth industry. And he essentially blamed them, in part, for volatile moves in hospital stocks that have little to do with industry fundamentals.