LifePoint Hospitals, Brentwood, Tenn., said it expects same-facility patient volume to pick up in 2007 by 1% to 2%, but the increase will be partially offset by competition from physician-owned facilities, bad debt and contract-labor costs. The company also said it expects to return to acquiring hospitals in the second half of 2007, and use cash from operations to pay down debt rather than buy back its shares. LifePoints estimated 2007 per-share earnings are at $2.42 to $2.52. That compares with stock analysts average estimate of $2.62 per share, according to data compiled by Thomson Financial Network. During a conference call, LifePoint executives said the company is focused on winning market share through targeted investments that expand its service lines. LifePoint owns or operates 51 hospitals in 19 states. -- by Vince Galloro
LifePoint sees volume gain in 07
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