Weak Vanguard Q3 report dings stock

Company trims high end of '13 guidance

Investors sold off shares of Vanguard Health Systems Wednesday after the hospital operator posted fiscal third-quarter profits smaller than those of a year ago.

Vanguard executives said the company's net income attributable to stockholders was $21.3 million in the first three months of 2013, down from $44 million last year. Year-ago numbers included a $22.3 million boost from an adjustment to past reimbursements.

Adjusted EBITDA fell 19 percent year over year to $143 million, with the company's insurance division holding its own but its hospitals' EBITDA margins falling to 9.7 percent from 11.6 percent. Total revenues dipped 5 percent to $1.50 billion as discharges fell 3.2 percent, a number similar to what other hospital operators have reported of late.

At about 12:45 p.m., shares of Vanguard (Ticker: VHS) were down almost 7 percent to $13.66 on above-average volume. Year to date, they're up about 11 percent.

Chairman and CEO Charlie Martin and his team also trimmed their guidance range for the rest of 2013, lowering their high-end projections. Net income is now expected to come in between $59 million to $65 million, down from $62 million to $77 million. Per diluted share, they now see Vanguard earnings between 71 and 78 cents, down from 74 to 93 cents.