Columbia/HCA Reports First Quarter Results

First-quarter revenues declined slightly but net income increased for hospital giant Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. (Nashville, TN).

The chain announced that for the first quarter ended March 31, revenues from continuing operations totaled $4.7 billion compared to $4.9 billion in the first quarter of last year. Net income, meanwhile, for the first quarter totaled $322 million compared to $197 million in the first quarter of 1998.

For the quarter, same-facility admissions increased by 3.5%. Same-facility equivalent admissions, which reflect inpatient and outpatient volumes, increased 3.6%, the company says.

What's more, subject to financing arrangements and regulatory approvals, the company's board of directors has authorized the spin-offs of LifePoint Hospitals, Inc. and Triad Hospitals, Inc. (America and Pacific Groups, respectively) to the stockholders of Columbia/HCA. The spin-off will be accomplished through a distribution of one share of LifePoint and one share of Triad common stock for every 19 shares of Columbia/HCA common stock outstanding on the record date of April 30. The effective date of the spin-off will be on or about May 11.

Finally, in February 1999, the board authorized a one-billion-dollar share repurchase program. As of April 20, Columbia/HCA had repurchased 6.9 million shares of its common stock for approximately $131 million. On April 29, the company announced that it has entered into accelerated block purchase agreements for approximately $700 million, or 26.6 million shares of its common stock. Including these accelerated purchase agreements, the company has now purchased approximately 35.7 million shares, for $880 million.