Earnings wrap: LifePoint, NHI, NHC

Hospital chain guides below Street for '13; REIT raises dividend

LifePoint Hospitals on Friday reported fourth-quarter earnings that beat analysts' expectations but said its outlook for 2013 was not as rosy as the Street.

Executives at Brentwood-based LifePoint said the company earned $36.3 million in the last three months of 2012, down from $37.7 million in late 2011. Revenues rose 14 percent to $893 million but spending on salaries and benefits rose to 47.5 percent of revenues from 45.2 percent. The company also booked a $1 million loss on discontinued operations. Equivalent admissions at facilities owned in both periods fell slightly while inpatient surgeries fell by 7 percent.

Chairman and CEO Bill Carpenter and his team also said they expect LifePoint to earn between $2.73 and $3.11 per diluted share in 2013 versus $3.14 in 2012. That guidance came up short of the $3.16 per diluted share analysts had been expecting for this year.

Shares of LifePoint (Ticker: LPNT) rose slightly in Friday trading, closing in $44.34. They've climbed about 12 percent in the past six months.

Real estate investment trust National Health Investors said its normalized funds from operations rose 9 percent from late 2011 to $23.4 million. Revenues rose to $26.8 million from $22.6 million and net income more than doubled to almost $42 million, helped by $12 million in gains on the sale of real estate and $4.5 million in loan recoveries.

NHI officials separately said the company's board has voted to increase its quarterly dividend 69.5 cents per share from 67 cents. Looking ahead to 2013 results, CEO Justin Hutchens and his team are forecasting normalized FFO of $3.30 to $3.38 per diluted common share. That's below the $3.39 analysts had been looking for, but investors took that guidance in stride Friday and pushed NHI shares (Ticker: NHI) up 2 percent to $65.48. They've risen 27 percent in the past six months.

Nursing home operator National HealthCare Corp. reported flat fourth-quarter of about $12.3 million. Revenues rose slightly to $194 million as a 2 percent drop in patient days was offset by a rise in per-diem revenues. Diluted earnings per share came in at 87 cents, down from 88 cents in the last three months of 2011.

NHC officials noted that 2011 operating expenses included an after-tax benefit of $6.8 million because of positive developments in the company's accrued risk reserves. Excluding that number, 2012 after-tax profits would have been up 1.5 percent.

Shares of NHC (Ticker: NHC) rose 1 percent Friday, closing at $47.70. Over the past six months, they're up about 5 percent.