HCA records 44% drop in profit, pulls 2020 guidance

HCA Healthcare, a 186-hospital system based in Nashville, Tenn., said its revenue increased and its profit declined in the first quarter of this year, which ended March 31. 

HCA posted revenue of $12.9 billion in the first quarter of this year, up 2.7 percent from the same period a year earlier when revenue totaled $12.5 billion, including $86 million from an arbitration agreement HCA finalized with a payer. The company said same-hospital admissions were up less than 1 percent year over year, while same-facility emergency room visits, inpatient surgeries and outpatient surgeries declined. 

"Patient volumes across most services were significantly impacted in the last two weeks of the quarter as various COVID-19 policies were implemented by federal and state governments," HCA said. 

HCA ended the first quarter of this year with net income of $581 million, down 44 percent from $1.04 billion in the same period last year. During the first quarter of 2020, HCA recorded losses of $295 million on retirement of debt and a $7 million gain on the sales of facilities.

In its earnings release, HCA said it has taken several steps to enhance financial and operational flexibility during the COVID-19 pandemic, including cost-reduction initiatives, scaling back capital expenditures, suspending its share repurchase program, executing a new $2 billion loan facility, and requesting accelerated Medicare payments authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. 

HCA said COVID-19's ultimate effect on its financial and operating results this year will depend on several factors, most of which the company is unable to forecast. As a result, HCA is withdrawing its 2020 financial guidance issued in February. 

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