HCA has acquisitions in the pipeline, plans to expand nursing school

Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare grew to 185 hospitals when it completed the $1.5 billion acquisition of Asheville, N.C.-based Mission Health last year. Now, the for-profit hospital operator is looking to expand again.

During an earnings call on Jan. 28, HCA executives were asked about the company's capital investment opportunities and about potential transactions. Executive Vice President and CFO William B. Rutherford said the company is evaluating strategic acquisitions, and there are a few deals in the works.

"We do expect a couple of smaller acquisitions that are in the pipeline to be completed," Mr. Rutherford said, according to Seeking Alpha. "… We are usually evaluating a couple of larger acquisition opportunities at any particular time. It's hard to call exactly when and if they might be completed, but we have the balance sheet capacity to execute on these, if they come to fruition."

Mr. Rutherford and CEO Samuel N. Hazen also discussed HCA's recent acquisition of Galen College of Nursing, which has five campuses across Kentucky, Florida, Ohio and Texas as well an online program.  

The nursing school "has a scalable model," Mr. Hazen said. "And when you connect that scalable model with the unique platform of HCA, we think we can create a nursing school education program that starts to scale up across most of our major markets."

Mr. Hazen said they're building a multiyear plan to expand Galen College of Nursing.

"The investment requirements to do that are modest," he said. "It's really about getting the right faculty, the right administrative leadership and so forth, and the team is working on that as we speak. We're very excited about what the education opportunities for the Galen [College] of Nursing can do for HCA."

HCA ended the fourth quarter of 2019 with net income of $1.1 billion on revenues of $13.5 billion. Looking at full-year 2019 results, HCA's revenue was up 10 percent year over year, and its net income dropped 7 percent to $3.5 billion.

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