HCA said its per-share operating earnings rose 25% in the fourth quarter of 2000, before several charges including a $100 million write-down of assets due mostly to problems with its Atlanta health-care system.
The Nashville-based operator of 196 hospitals and 78 ambulatory surgery centers said that before non-recurring charges it earned $198 million, or 35 cents a share, in the quarter ended December 31, 2000. In the fourth quarter of the previous year, HCA earned $159 million, or 28 cents a share, before special items. Operating profit was a penny a share better than analysts' most recent estimates.
Net income for the quarter was $21 million, or 4 cents a share, down from $91 million, or 16 cents, in the year-ago period.
Revenue for the quarter increased 5.9% to $4.2 billion. Same-facility revenue rose 6.4% while same-facility admissions edged higher by 1.8%.
In the fourth quarter, HCA took several charges to earnings. It took a previously announced $95 million, or 17 cents a share, charge to settles the federal government's criminal charges regarding the company's Medicare billing practices. That amount will be paid in the current quarter.
(The earlier $498 million settlement of related civil charges will be paid either in the current quarter or in the second quarter.)
HCA also took asset-impairment charges of $100 million ($68 million net of tax), or 12 cents a share. These charges were mostly due to "a reduction in asset valuation in our Atlanta market."
The company also said that it intends to buy a 200-bed hospital from HealthSouth (HRC) in Richmond, Va., where it operates several other facilities.
At year-end, HCA had forward contracts to buy back another 23.4 million shares of its common stock. Valued at roughly $751 million, these contracts are recorded on the balance sheet as "temporary equity."
HCA shares settled Monday at $37.60. Their 52-week range is $18.75-$45.25.