Universal Health Services, King of Prussia, Pa., said it expects its earnings per share for the quarter ending March 31 to be as much as 25% lower than the 84 cents per share it earned in 2003's first quarter. Declining acute-care inpatient admissions, especially because of increased competition from ventures with physician investors, and a continuing increase in bad-debt expense are the primary factors behind the expected earnings shortfall, UHS said. During a conference call, Chief Financial Officer Steve Filton said the company's hospitals in Aiken, S.C., and McAllen, Texas, have been particularly hard hit by increased competition. Filton also said that the company's length of stay for Medicare patients increased in January, but he expects that to be a one-time event and largely dissipated with better case management. UHS owns or operates 29 acute-care and 39 behavioral health hospitals. -- by Vince Galloro
UHS says competition, bad debt will lower profit
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