Given the tough hospital environment and weak results from competitors, Universal Health Services' ( UHS) second-quarter performance looks almost otherworldly. The company's unique portfolio of behavioral health facilities isn't the only reason, either. This time, the company's acute-care hospitals posted solid growth as well. As a result, the company blew past Wall Street estimates for the latest period. Its stock, in turn, jumped 5.1% to $54.43 on Friday. During the recent quarter, Universal saw revenue climb 6% to $1.05 billion, topping the consensus estimate of $1.02 billion. Net income slid 62% to $60.3 million due to the absence of year-ago gains. However, earnings per share of 78 cents beat Wall Street expectations by a full 13 cents. For Universal, at least, everything seemed to go right. While competitors weathered volume declines at their own facilities, Universal reported a 1.3% rise in acute-care admissions during the latest period. The company also enjoyed strong pricing and managed to keep its costs under control, leading to margin expansion. Thus, Universal didn't have to lean on its behavioral health division as much as usual -- which was probably best. Though still positive, results from that unit have been stronger in the past. There, inpatient admission rose 1.7% -- and patient days inched up less than 1%. Still, prices in that division remained very strong as well. JPMorgan analyst Andreas Dirnagl called the quarter "solid on virtually every front." However, he maintained his neutral rating on the stock because he views it as fairly valued in light of recent earnings volatility and ongoing industry challenges. His firm has investment banking ties to the company. All in all, Dirnagl seemed a bit puzzled by the company's results in the end. "Expect stock reaction to be positive," he wrote in a research note for clients. "Our question, however, is where did UHS find so many perfect patients -- short-stay, high-pay, low-resource utilizing?"
They apparently didn't go to LifePoint ( LPNT). There, same-hospital admissions plummeted by 4% in the latest quarter. Revenue of $569 million, while up 23% with help from a big acquisition, fell shy of the $573 million consensus estimate. However, the company swung to a $34.8 million profit from a year-ago loss due to the absence of special charges. In addition, by keeping its costs under control -- particularly for supplies -- it managed to post operating profits of 54 cents a share that beat Wall Street expectations by a penny.