Tenet 4Q Profit Soars as Admissions Drop Slows

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Hospital operator Tenet Healthcare Corp. said Friday its fourth-quarter earnings soared as revenue received a boost from patient volumes, and the company trimmed some expenses.

    The Dallas company earned $74 million, or 14 cents per share, in the three months that ended Dec. 31. That compares to earnings of $21 million, or 4 cents per share, in the prior-year quarter. Revenue climbed 2 percent to $2.3 billion.

    Analysts polled by FactSet expected, on average, earnings of 8 cents per share on $2.34 billion in revenue.

    Tenet said it earned $281 million if items like interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization are excluded. That's a 29-percent increase from last year's quarter.

    Tenet runs 49 hospitals and 81 outpatient facilities in 11 states. It saw admissions fall 2 percent in the quarter, but the company noted that the decline was smaller than the 3.5 percent drop in the third quarter, and outpatient visits rose 3 percent in the final quarter of 2010.

    "Our volume trends showed significant improvement in November and December compared to the first 10 months of the year," CEO Trevor Fetter said in a statement.

    The company's bad debt, or unpaid collections, rose more than 5 percent to $191 million. But salary, wages and benefits fell 2 percent to $967 million, and Tenet also recorded a drop in litigation and other charges.

    For the full year, Tenet earned $1.12 million, or $2.04 per share, on $9.21 billion in revenue.

    Tenet is the subject of a takeover bid by rival hospital operator Community Health Systems Inc. Community, based in Franklin, Tenn., said last month it will nominate 10 directors to the board of Tenet, which has rebuffed its $3.3 billion offer. Tenet has said the Community offer is inadequate, and its own plans will deliver more shareholder value.

    Tenet shares climbed 8 cents to $7.05 in morning trading.