Tenet Healthcare Corp., Santa Barbara, Calif., said it will "comfortably exceed" healthcare stock analysts' consensus per-share earnings estimates for its fourth quarter and fiscal year 2002, both of which ended May 31. Analysts had predicted quarterly earnings of 90 cents per share and full-year earnings of $3.20 per share, compared with 68 cents per share in the year-ago quarter and $2.30 per share for fiscal 2001. Admissions at hospitals Tenet owned for more than 12 months were up 1.7% for fiscal 2002, compared with a 2.4% same-hospital admissions growth in fiscal 2001. Other factors contributing to the increased earnings were better reimbursement, cost cutting and lower interest costs, the company said. Tenet plans to announce full results for the fourth quarter and fiscal 2002 on July 11. The company owns and operates 115 hospitals.
Meanwhile, WellPoint Health Networks, Thousand Oaks, Calif., has raised its 2002 earnings guidance for the second time in just over six weeks, citing strong membership growth in key markets and lower administrative costs. The parent of Blue Cross of California hiked earnings projections for the year ending Dec. 31 to $4.30 per share from $4 and predicted total enrollment gains in the high single digits, with 10.5% growth in California and 7.3% in Georgia. WellPoint, which recently acquired Blues plans in Georgia and Missouri, has about 13 million members. It had raised its earnings guidance from $3.85 per share in April.