Community Health Systems, Brentwood, Tenn., said its profits grew nearly one-third for 2003 and one-fourth for the year's fourth quarter, although the rural hospital chain saw its margins squeezed by rising bad-debt expense. Community said its profits were $131.5 million, or $1.30 per share, for 2003, compared with $100 million, or $1 per share, in 2002. Revenue climbed 29% to $2.8 billion. For the fourth quarter, Community earned $35.6 million, or 35 cents per share, compared with $28.4 million, or 28 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. Revenue was up 36% to $795 million. Bad-debt expense was 9.8% and 10.2% of revenue for 2003 and the fourth quarter, respectively, compared with 9.1% and 8.8% for the respective year-ago periods. Same-hospital volume figures were weak for 2003, with adjusted admissions declining 0.4%, but better for the quarter, during which adjusted admissions increased 2.4%. Community owns or operates 72 hospitals in 22 states. -- by Vince Galloro
Community's profits up, but bad debt also rises
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