CHS sees annual loss shrink to $675M, plans to sell more hospitals

Community Health Systems, which operates 99 hospitals in 17 states, saw revenue decline and its net loss swell in the fourth quarter, but the Franklin, Tenn.-based company's full-year loss shrunk.  

In financial documents released Feb. 19, CHS said revenues and admissions dropped in the fourth quarter of last year. The company said admissions decreased 9.9 percent year over year and operating revenues dropped 4.8 percent. The decline was largely due to CHS owning fewer hospitals. On a same-facility basis, admissions and revenues were up 0.1 percent and 3.7 percent, respectively, in the fourth quarter of 2019.

After factoring in operating expenses and one-time charges, CHS ended the fourth quarter of 2019 with a net loss attributable to stockholders of $373 million. That's compared to the fourth quarter of 2018, when the company recorded a net loss of $328 million.

Looking at results for full-year 2019, CHS reported a net loss of $675 million on revenues of $13.2 billion. The company recorded a net loss of $788 million on revenues of $14.2 billion in 2018.

CHS Chairman and CEO Wayne T. Smith said he expects the company's performance to continue to improve in 2020.

"We concluded 2019 with a strong finish to the year. Our successful divestiture program, along with strategic growth initiatives in our core portfolio of markets, has driven better results, including improved same-store volume and net revenue growth in 2019," Mr. Smith said in an earnings release. "As we enter 2020, we expect to deliver incremental growth, driven by a combination of continued same-store net revenue performance and execution across our strategic margin improvement programs."

CHS announced in late 2017 that it intends to sell a group of hospitals with combined revenue of $2 billion, and the company made progress toward that goal last year. In 2019, CHS completed the divestiture of 12 hospitals. The company has sold three hospitals this year and has two others under definitive agreement to sell. 

"The company intends to continue its portfolio rationalization strategy through at least mid-2020 and is pursuing additional interests for sale transactions, which are currently in various stages of negotiation with potential buyers," states the earnings release.

The hospital divestitures have helped CHS reduce its debt load. The company carried $13.88 billion in long-term debt when it announced its divestiture plan at the end of 2017. CHS' long-term debt totaled $13.39 billion as of Dec. 31.

Shares of CHS closed Feb. 19 at $4.81 per share, up from $4.71 the day prior. 

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