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HCA profit tops expectations; shares rise

Reuters, February 7, 2012

HCA Holdings Inc, the largest U.S. hospital operator, on Monday reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings as it admitted more patients to its facilities and recorded a one-time gain from an investment, sending its shares up 6 percent. A focus on controlling operating expenses and a reduction in bad debts helped offset lower surgical volumes, the company said. Cardiovascular surgery volumes were down for the third consecutive quarter, though the rate of decline slowed, company officials said on a conference call. Managed-care admissions, which slumped during the economic downturn as workers lost jobs and insurance, rose slightly for the second quarter in a row.