Health Management Associates, Naples, Fla., posted higher profits for its fourth quarter and fiscal year ended Sept. 30 despite the hurricanes that battered the Southeast. HMA earned $74 million, or 30 cents per share, for the fourth quarter, compared with $69.8 million, or 28 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. Revenue increased 21% to $798.1 million. Profits for fiscal 2004 rose nearly 15% to $325.1 million, or $1.32 per share, from $283.4 million, or $1.13 per share, in fiscal 2003. Hurricane costs lowered net income for the quarter and year by $9.5 million, contributing to a reduced profit margin of 9.3% for the quarter and 10.1% for the year, compared with 10.6% and 11.7% for the respective year-ago periods. Excluding hurricane costs and deferred financing costs that affected the 2003 results, the reduction in margins for both the quarter and year was 0.9 percentage point.
For the quarter and the year, labor and supply costs rose faster than net revenue, compressing margins. Bad debt remained at 7.5% of net revenue for the quarter, but was up 0.2 percentage point to 7.5% for the 2004 fiscal year. For the quarter, adjusted admissions were flat at hospitals owned for 12 months or more, while that metric was up 2.7% for the fiscal year. HMA owns or operates 53 hospitals. -- by Vince Galloro