LifePoint Hospitals, Brentwood, Tenn., said it doesn't anticipate regulatory issues that would affect its $1.7 billion acquisition of Province Healthcare Co. The deal, expected to close in the first quarter of 2005, would create a company with 51 nonurban hospitals. The Federal Trade Commission has declined to intervene in the deal, and the financing is in place, LifePoint said. Meanwhile, LifePoint reported more than 20% profit growth to $19.7 million, or 50 cents per share, for the quarter ended Sept. 30, compared with $16.2 million, or 42 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. Revenue was up 16% to $253.7 million. LifePoint improved its profit margin as it trimmed bad debt expense to 9.6% of revenue compared with 10.2% in the year-ago quarter.
For the nine months, LifePoint reported profits of $62.3 million, or $1.58 per share, up more than a quarter from $49.2 million, or $1.26 per share, in the year-ago period. Revenue rose 14% to $739.4 million. For the nine months, margins also improved as LifePoint's labor and other operating costs rose less than revenue, even though bad debt expense was up one-half of a percentage point to 8.7% of revenue. -- by Vince Galloro