Tenet turns 4Q profit as outpatient visits rise

DALLAS (AP) -- Tenet Healthcare Corp. returned to a profit in last year's fourth quarter, as outpatient procedures rose for the hospital operator and it left behind some one-time costs.

The Dallas company said Tuesday it earned $49 million, or 45 cents per share, in the three months that ended Dec. 31. That compares to a loss of $76 million, or 70 cents per share, in the final quarter of 2011, when the company took hits totaling $148 million from the early extinguishment of debt and litigation-related costs.

Those expenses totaled $6 million in the 2012 quarter.

A profit measure that excludes interest payments, taxes, accounting charges to mark down the value of equipment and other items, called EBITDA, climbed 17 percent to $336 million in the 2012 quarter. Earnings from continuing operations totaled 52 cents per share.

Revenue rose 8 percent to $2.53 billion, from $2.35 billion.

Analysts expected, on average, adjusted EBITDA of $330.6 million and earnings per share of 68 cents on $2.31 billion in revenue, according to FactSet.

Shares dropped 87 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $36.76 in morning trading.

Tenet runs 49 hospitals and 117 outpatient centers in 10 states, including Texas, California and several southeastern states.

The company said its adjusted admissions, which combine inpatient admissions and outpatient procedures, rose 3 percent to 199,304 in the fourth quarter. Surgeries performed and outpatient visits both rose more than 7 percent.

A metric tracking how much revenue Tenet gets from each patient rose nearly 3 percent to $11,866 due in part to improved terms in commercial insurance contracts and higher Medicare reimbursement rates. Medicare is the federal program that provides coverage for the elderly and disabled people.

For the full year, the company earned $141 million, or $1.30 per share, on $9.9 billion in revenue.

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