The system also said it expects to report $806 million in income on revenue of almost $8.5 billion, compared with $699 million in income on $8.1 billion in revenue during the second quarter of last year.
Like its peers, HCA is coming off a tough start to the year, reporting an increase in same-facility admissions of only 0.1% for the first three months of 2013.
Its second-quarter results also come just weeks after Tenet Healthcare Corp., Dallas, cautioned that it expects to report admissions results that will be 3.5% lower than they were in the second quarter of 2012—raising concerns that 2013 might be a particularly challenging year for hospital operators.
Yet HCA’s preview not only boosted its own share price nearly 5%, but also buoyed Tenet and Community Health Systems, Franklin, Tenn., about 3%.
Early results from HCA, as the largest chain by hospital count and revenue, are closely watched as a bellwether for the industry.
Yet it remains to be seen whether other systems will report a similar rebound in patient numbers. A.J. Rice, an analyst at UBS, previously noted that HCA typically surpasses its peers in this area.
Community Health Systems will be the first investor-owned chain to report earnings, on July 24. HCA is scheduled to report final results on Aug. 1.