HCA expects surgical recovery to sustain on improved staffing, capacity

FILE PHOTO: HCA Healthcare Inc logo is seen displayed in this illustration taken April 10, 2023. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration


By Aditya Samal and Leroy Leo

(Reuters) -HCA Healthcare Inc said it expects a recovery in surgical procedures to persist through the year for the hospital operator as staffing almost reaches pre-pandemic levels and allows it to widen bed and surgical capacity.

The industry bellwether on Friday reported better-than-expected results and raised its forecasts for 2023 on improved staffing, lifting its shares up nearly 5%.

Last year, a spate of resignations by healthcare staff due to pandemic-related fatigue forced hospitals to pay large premiums for new hires, but first-quarter costs for HCA (NYSE:HCA) neared pre-pandemic levels as workers rejoined the force.

The company had instances of not being able to open all operating rooms due to the staffing constraints, CEO Samuel Hazen said on an investor conference call.

“As our labor situation continues to get better, we think that will allow us to open up more surgical capacity, and we believe the demand in the market is still there.”

The hospital bellwether’s upbeat earnings and commentary boosted shares of rival operators, with Tenet Healthcare (NYSE:THC) rising 6%, Universal Health (NYSE:UHS) Services up 4% and Community Health (NYSE:CYH) Systems gaining 13%.

HCA reported an adjusted profit of $4.53 per share, according to Refinitiv calculations, compared with estimates of $3.93 per share.

“These impressive trends in the first quarter appear to be setting HCA up for a stronger year than anticipated, and management has materially increased its outlook for 2023,” Morningstar analyst Julie Utterback said.

HCA now sees its 2023 adjusted profit in the range of $17.25 to $18.55 per share, above its previous forecast of $16.40 to $17.60. It also raised its revenue forecast range to $62.5 billion to $64.5 billion.


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