HCA last month disclosed that its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization will be $65 million to $75 million above the high end of its previous guidance of $6.25 billion to $6.5 billion for the full year.
But because the chain did not disclose patient volume, analysts speculated that HCA achieved that result primarily through aggressive cost-cutting efforts and a boost from ancillary businesses, such as Parallon Business Solutions, its revenue-cycle management arm.
Still, patient volume is usually a bright spot for HCA, even as its peers have struggled. The company managed to increase patient volume and revenue per equivalent admission in the second and third quarters. President and CEO Milton Johnson said at a recent investor conference that those trends carried over into the fourth quarter, without revealing numbers.
At the same conference, Tenet Healthcare Corp. said it expects to report a 2.3% decline in same-hospital admissions in the fourth quarter—which is not as steep as previous quarters.
Community Health Systems, however, last month previewed a 10% drop in fourth-quarter same-hospital admissions, which means its 2013 revenue and EBITDA will come in below earlier projections. The chain reports results Feb. 18.
LifePoint Hospitals will report results Feb. 14, and Universal Health Services, Feb. 27.
Follow Beth Kutscher on Twitter: @MHbkutscher