HCA, Nashville, announced that it plans to divest 10 hospitals in rural or small urban markets that don't fit its portfolio of urban and suburban hospitals. HCA said it expects to complete the divestitures by the end of the year, with Merrill Lynch & Co. serving as adviser. The company said that by divesting the hospitals, it can focus its capital investments on its roughly 180 remaining hospitals. HCA said the divestitures would not have a significant effect on the company's results. The 10 hospitals had revenue totaling $654 million for 2004, compared with the company's $23.5 billion in revenue. The company also said it will report earnings of 88 cents to 93 cents per share for the first quarter ended March 31; the complete results will be announced in late April. The earnings-per-share range is greater than analyst estimates, which ranged from 69 cents to 80 cents, according to Thomson Financial Network. -- by Vince Galloro
Ran with a corrected figure.