HCA 1Q profit climbs but misses expectations

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Shares of HCA Holdings Inc. slipped Tuesday after the hospital operator reported first-quarter earnings that inched up but fell short of Wall Street's expectations.

The Nashville, Tenn., company said results for the quarter that ended March 31 included $78 million in legal claim costs from an increase in an estimate of the company's liability in a lawsuit over the purchase of some hospitals from Health Midwest. The quarter also included a $21-million gain on the sale of some facilities.

Not counting those items, HCA earned 84 cents per share in the quarter, a penny short of average analyst expectations for 85 cents per share.

Overall, the company earned $347 million, or 76 cents per share, in the first quarter. That compares with earnings of $344 million, or 74 cents per share, last year.

Revenue climbed 4.6 percent to $8.83 billion.

Analysts expected, on average, $8.87 billion in revenue, according to FactSet.

HCA runs about 165 hospitals and 115 free-standing surgery centers in 20 states and England. It said adjusted admissions at hospitals open at least a year fell slightly, but revenue per admission at those locations rose 3.7 percent.

The company's stock fell 3 percent, or $1.61, to $51Tuesday morning, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index climbed slightly. The stock had just reached a 52-week high price of $53.81 on Monday.

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