Universal Health Services, King of Prussia, Pa., saw its first-quarter profits rise 33%, snapping its trend of stagnant profits in 2004 and far outpacing analysts' expectations. The company earned $61.4 million, or 99 cents per share, compared with $46.2 million, or 74 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. Excluding one-time items in both quarters, profits were up 30%, Universal said. Revenue rose 11% to $1.09 billion. The 99 cents earnings per share was 23 cents higher than analysts' average estimate, according to Piper Jaffray & Co., which credited Universal's performance to control of labor and other costs and stabilization of the company's south Texas market. Universal owns or leases 24 acute-care hospitals and 44 psychiatric hospitals.
In other hospital-industry earnings news, Community Health Systems, Brentwood, Tenn., said its first-quarter profits were depressed by an after-tax loss of $11.7 million related to the sale of four hospitals and termination of one hospital lease. The company earned $36 million, or 39 cents per share, down 11.5% from $40.7 million, or 39 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. Revenue was up 16% to $914.1 million. Community owns or leases 68 hospitals. Meanwhile, LifePoint Hospitals, Brentwood, Tenn., said higher volume fueled an 8% increase in its first-quarter profits to $25.8 million, or 63 cents per share, from $23.9 million, or 60 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. Revenue was up 11.5% to $275.9 million. Results don't include Province Healthcare Co., which LifePoint acquired on April 15. Including Province, LifePoint owns or operates 50 hospitals. -- by Vince Galloro