Province Healthcare Co., Brentwood, Tenn., reporting earnings for perhaps the last time, said its third-quarter profits were $11.5 million, or 22 cents per share, compared with $9.8 million, or 20 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. Revenue rose more than 25% to $235.3 million. The company is expected to be acquired by LifePoint Hospitals, also based in Brentwood, in the first quarter of 2005, before fourth-quarter earnings are released. For the nine months ended Sept. 30, Province said profits were $41.3 million, or 79 cents per share, up 40% from the year-ago period. Revenue increased about 17% to $644.4 million.
The company's bad debt expense rose 1.3 percentage points to 10.6% of revenue for the quarter. Province said its June acquisition of Memorial Medical Center in Las Cruces, N.M., was the main factor behind the increase. The company said Memorial has recorded bad debt expense of about 12% since the deal closed, on par with expectations. For the quarter and nine months, Province posted gains of 0.7% and 1% in same-hospital adjusted admissions, respectively, even as inpatient admissions were down in both periods. The company said its physician recruitment efforts over the past two years are showing up in outpatient volume ahead of inpatient admissions. Province owns or operates 20 hospitals. -- by Vince Galloro